Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It affects one in nine adults over the age of 65. It causes emotional and psychological suffering not only for the patient, but for their loved ones as well. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are some medical and behavioral treatments that can reduce symptoms or make them more manageable.
It is never too early to make lifestyle choices that have been shown to not only reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but increase your overall quality of life. Some of these choices include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting a healthy amount of exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake to a moderate amount
- Recognizing and treating the signs of depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes
In honor of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month this June, we have described the various stages of Alzheimer’s disease below. Each of these stages can last for several years, and every patient’s experience is slightly different. It is our hope that with this knowledge, you will be better equipped to detect the early signs of Alzheimer’s and seek out treatment options.
Stage 1: Pre-clinical, before symptoms appear
At this stage, the brain has begun to change, but there are no noticeable differences in the person’s behavior or memory. The only way it can be detected is by a PET scan. Once the changes in the brain have begun, unfortunately, there is no way to stop Alzheimer’s disease from progressing. With early detection, though, the symptoms can be slowed down and a management plan can be put into place.
Stage 2: The patient begins to notice an increase in forgetfulness
During the very earliest phases of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms may not be recognized by loved ones or doctors. The patient may find that they are forgetting things more often, but may attribute this to other factors such as distraction or lack of sleep.
Stage 3: Other people start to see mild symptoms
Friends, family members, and other acquaintances might observe changes in the patient’s behavior at this stage. These changes could include difficulty concentrating, forgetting plans, being a bit more disorganized, or having a hard time remembering the names of people they’ve met recently.
Stage 4: The patient begins to lose cognitive functions
Of all the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, it is during this one that most people realize that they are dealing with a clinical problem and not just age-related memory loss. The patient is not only more forgetful, but other symptoms are occurring as well. The patient might get lost easily, have mood swings, become easily frustrated, have difficulty thinking through problems and doing mental calculations, and so on.
Stage 5: Losing independence
The patient is no longer able to safely live alone since at this stage they can forget important details of their lives such as their address, phone number, and the names of people they are closest to. They may suffer from hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia.
Stage 6: Severe mental decline
Major changes in personality can cause people close to the patient in this stage to feel that they are “no longer themselves”. Hallucinations and delusions can become worse. Patients might not be able to concentrate or think well enough to carry on a normal conversation, and will likely not remember who they are talking to. They might need help feeding themselves, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, or doing other daily physical activities.
Stage 7: Severe mental and physical decline
This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, in which the mental and physical symptoms are at their worst. Due to the deterioration of the brain, patients lose their abilities to perform necessary physical functions like walking, sitting, up, or even swallowing. Patients at this stage need someone to care for them around the clock.
Your loved ones deserve the best care and most personalized attention available. Leaving the comfort and familiarity of one’s home is a difficult choice that can be postponed or prevented altogether with professional in-home care.
Home Instead offers Alzheimer’s and dementia home care in Lafayette, LA, and nearby areas. Contact us today for a free no-obligation Care Consultation to learn how we can help your aging loved one remain comfortable at home with the assistance of our compassionate and professional CAREGivers.