Close to 6.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease today. Researchers predict that this number will double or more by 2060.
Alzheimer’s typically affects the older population. However, young people may also contract the disease, although cases are rare. You can better support your loved one who has the condition by educating them about Alzheimer’s stages.
Understanding the various symptoms and behavior of a person under different stages of Alzheimer’s will help you develop a better care plan.
Here are some common stages and what to expect in each stage.
Stage One: Normal Behavior
The initial stage of Alzheimer’s disease is unnoticeable. At these stages, the brain of the victim-to-be begins to change. The person won’t show any out-of-the-ordinary behavior as these changes occur.
Since the changes occur silently, you won’t know that your loved one is developing the condition. However, a PET scan will show these changes if your loved happens to go for it at this phase. The imaging test shows normal brain activity, and it detects any variations.
Many people don’t go for a PET scan during the early stages of Alzheimer’s. This is understandable as the effects are still insidious. As the diseases progress into the next phase, noticeable changes begin to occur.
Stage Two: Mild Changes
Your loved one will start experiencing mild symptoms that you’re likely to miss. For instance, they may forget some words. Or they might start misplacing some objects once in a while.
It’s easy to dismiss this behavior as something that happens to a majority of people. Even doctors have a hard time identifying such behavior as early symptoms of Alzheimer’s at this point. Note that these symptoms are similar to those arising from the natural aging process.
The good part about this stage is the symptoms won’t interfere with your loved one. They should be able to work and go on with their routines without any difficulties.
Stage Three: Mild Decline
In stage two, dismissing the symptoms as a normal aging process was easy, even preferable. But it’s difficult to ignore the tell-tale signs characteristic of stage three. The changes in your loved one’s thinking process and reasoning starts being conspicuous.
You’ll notice that your loved one repeatedly begins to ask the same questions. They’ll also have trouble retaining memory of texts they read moments ago. Difficulties in planning or organizing their routines take root in this stage.
You can help an elderly person at this stage in two ways. You can become their memory to ensure your loved one honors every appointment and pays their bills on time. You can also ask them to retire and put their financial and legal documents in order.
Stage 4: Moderate Decline
The symptoms of the mild decline become pronounced in this stage. This is in addition to other symptoms developing. Your loved ones will forget details about themselves, the date, and what season you are in.
Your loved one will also find it difficult to write correct amounts on checks, and struggle to cook and make phone calls. As the stage progresses, your loved one won’t understand what people communicate to them.
With moderate decline, your loved one will struggle to perform tasks that have numerous steps, such as driving. Try helping them by doing their chores. Protect them from harm, including people who’d want to rip them off financially.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline
At this point, your loved one forgets their physical location and the time at a particular instance. They’ll not recall phone numbers, addresses of their home, and particulars of where they got their education from. Choosing clothes for a particular weather or season becomes distressing for them.
Assist a loved one at this stage by arranging the clothes they need for each morning. Reassure them whenever they ask the same question too many times. People with Alzheimer’s disease ask the same questions to confirm that they are in the company of someone close.
Indulge your loved ones in stories and encourage them to use their imagination to come up with one. Not being able to remember facts doesn’t hold them back from being creative.
Stage 6: Severe Decline
Alzheimer’s makes people forget names, even though your face might be familiar. During the severe decline, your loved one may start mistaking you for other people. For instance, they may refer to you as their nephew when you are their youngest son.
Delusion is a common trait among people in the severe decline stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t be surprised if your loved one insists on going for a job interview when they retired years ago. This stage makes it hard for the victims to dress up and feed themselves.
At this stage, weight loss, change in sleeping patterns, skin infection, and pneumonia can set in. Being compassionate is key to assisting your loved one at this stage.
Read to them their favorite books, play the music that they love, and assist them with the tasks that they are unable to perform. Building connections at this stage isn’t easy. But the little effort goes a long way.
Stage 7: Very Severe Decline
At severe decline, your loved one loses most of their basic abilities, like walking and eating. Supporting your loved one at this stage may be overwhelming, even if you are willing to do so.
Perhaps you should enroll your loved one in a nursing home. Nursing homes understand the needs of people at this stage. They have all the tools and resources at their disposal to make the life of your loved one more comfortable.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Stages
Your loved one deserves the best care as they go through the different Alzheimer’s stages. It’s easy to provide this care during the initial phases. Your loved one’s faculties are still functional, which makes caregiving bearable.
But as the diseases progress, so does the level of care needed to keep your loved one comfortable. Parsons House can step in and give your loved ones the quality of care that they deserve. Contact us for more information.