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Understanding the three stages of Alzheimer’s

Understanding the three stages of Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Health Assistance Foundation, “more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.” And during the course of care, those caregivers, usually family members or friends, will be taxed mentally and physically and in a myriad of highs and lows. But as the disease progresses, the assistance needed can change and increase and sometimes become too much for one individual to handle.

To help the general public better understand the stages of Alzheimer’s, including the degree of care needed for each, the AHAF published the following information:

Stage 1 (Mild): This stage can last from 2 to 4 years. Early in the illness, those with Alzheimer’s tend to be less energetic and spontaneous. They exhibit minor memory loss and mood swings, and are slow to learn and react. They may become withdrawn, avoid people and new places and prefer the familiar. Individuals become confused, have difficulty organizing and planning, get lost easily and exercise poor judgment. They may have difficulty performing routine tasks, and have trouble communicating and understanding written material. If the person is employed, memory loss may begin to affect job performance. They can become angry and frustrated.

Some specific examples of behaviors that people exhibit in this mild stage include:

  • Getting lost
  • Difficulty managing money and paying bills
  • Repetitive questions and conversations
  • Taking longer than usual to finish routine daily tasks
  • Poor judgment
  • Losing things or misplacing them in odd places
  • Noticeable changes in personality or mood

Stage 2 (Moderate): This is generally the longest stage and can last 2 to 10 years. In this sta

ge, the person with Alzheimer’s is clearly becoming disabled. Individuals can still perform simple tasks independently, but may need assistance with more complicated activities. They forget recent events and their personal history, and become more disoriented and disconnected from reality. Memories of the distant past may be confused with the present, and affect the person’s ability to comprehend the current situation, date and time. They may have trouble recognizing familiar people. Speech problems arise and understanding, reading and writing are more difficult, and the individual may invent words. They may no longer be safe alone and can wander. As Alzheimer’s patients become aware of this loss of control, they may become depressed, irritable and restless or apathetic and withdrawn. They may experience sleep disturbances and have more trouble eating, grooming and dressing.

Stage 3 (Severe): This stage may last 1 to 3 years. During this final stage, people may lose the ability to feed themselves, speak, recognize people and control bodily functions, such as swallowing or bowel and bladder control. Their memory worsens and may become almost non-existent. They will sleep often and grunting or moaning can be common. Constant care is typically necessary. In a weakened physical state, patients may become vulnerable to other illnesses, skin infections, and respiratory problems, particularly when they are unable to move around.

For more information about Alzheimer’s and how Freedom Home Care can step in when you and your family need it the most, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help you provide the special care needed for those loved ones with Alzheimer’s or related dementias whether at home or in an assisted living facility.

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