Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects many aging people across the world. It is a slow, and hard to detect disease until the signs of the disease are visibly present. It can take a toll on the senior’s life, and is especially hard for the family and the caregivers as the disease progresses. Most of us think of Alzheimer’s as a memory loss disease, but it is much more than that. It follows roughly seven basic steps and while definitely rooted in memory issues, it affects all elements of cognition as the disease progresses.
What follows are the seven basic stages of Alzheimer’s, and what you can expect in terms of symptoms from the senior during each stage.
- Stage 1: Normal Functioning. This is the first stage of Alzheimer’s and is not marked by any memory or cognitive changes that would be noticeable to family or medical professionals.
- Stage 2: Initial, yet very mild cognitive decline. This is the first stage of Alzheimer’s where any sort of symptoms begin to appear. At this time, the affected senior is likely to begin to have trouble with short-term memory loss, though it is very minor. They may experience feelings of forgetfulness or trouble with word recall or where they left things like keys. But at this stage, there are no clinical signs of dementia. Most people would consider these to be age-related symptoms that most seniors experience.
- Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline. At this stage, the disease will start to become noticeable to friends and family, it will also be easily detected by medical professionals once it reaches this stage. The senior will experience increased difficulty remembering things. Word recall and remembering where things have been left also become increasingly difficult. Remembering the names of newly met people also begins to become difficult at this stage. The senior in this stage begins to have difficulty retaining information in personal, work and social situations.
- Stage 4: Moderate levels of cognitive decline. Full-blown Alzheimer’s is easily diagnosed at this stage in the disease. The senior will experience increased difficulty with short-term memory control. They will begin to have difficulties with arithmetic (like counting backwards from 100), and things like bill paying and managing the home can become difficult as they may forget to pay bills. They may begin to forget personal history at this point and this is often when noticeable mood and behavioral changes are detected such as the senior becoming irritable or depressed.
- Stage 5: The beginning of severe decline. At this stage, seniors have impairments in their ability to get through basic daily functioning. At this point, they may begin to forget important information such as one’s address or phone number. They are likely to experience confusion over time and place as well as a decreased ability with simple arithmetic. They may need assistance remembering appointments or choosing weather-appropriate attire as they forget which season it is. They are likely to still remember their family and friends and can still control bowel and bladder functioning.
- Stage 6: Severe decline. At this stage, the disease really starts to take its toll. Many family members report that during this stage, changes to mood and personality of the senior can take place. They will need help with most of their daily activities. They will easily forget where they are and what time it is. While at this stage, they are still likely to recognize family members, they may have trouble recalling names. They are likely to experience sleep chances at this time and may start to experience some problems with bladder and bowel control.
- Stage 7: The final stage. This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s and when the senior will no longer be able to care for themselves in any way, shape or form, they will need constant monitoring and care. At the end stage, the senior may not be able to respond or carry on a conversation. They may have reflex issues that cause clubbing of feet and curling of the hands. At this point, they require extensive care to help keep them as comfortable as possible during the final stage of this disease.
At Carefect Homecare Services, we understand the desire to provide the best in-home care for your family members. We also understand the difficult nature of Alzheimer’s disease and our compassionate and highly trained staff is well versed in the stages of the disease. They can provide the best care for your loved one through each stage of Alzheimer’s, providing them compassionate, understanding, and the utmost in quality of care.