The thought of Alzheimer’s disease is frightful for many of us, but not many people know exactly what the basic stages of this disease are until they watch a love one progress. This neurological disorder is gradual, and most prevalent in senior populations. Despite the burdens it places on both the patient and family, it’s a disease that is not easy to detect in its early stages. Despite common belief, Alzheimer’s disease stretches beyond the symptoms of memory loss, often affecting multiple elements of cognition.
Here are the seven basic stages of Alzheimer’s disease that everyone should be aware of:
Stage 1: Normal Functioning
Although this is marked at the first stage, there aren’t any noticeable signs of disruptions to memory or cognitive functioning at this point. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s difficult to detect in the early stages.
Stage 2: Initial Cognitive Decline
During this phase, the symptoms of short-term memory loss will become noticeable, albeit still mild in nature. The condition can be quite hard to detect at this stage, as it may be indistinguishable from the memory lapses or moments of confusion that happen to us all. Common symptoms such as forgetting where they left the keys or having trouble recalling words are more prevalent. It’s important to be aware of an increase in these incidents, even if they seem like standard symptoms of aging.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline
At this point, the symptoms of cognitive decline and memory loss become more prevalent and noticeable. This is usually when family and friends begin to notice that something is wrong, and where medical experts can detect the onset of the disease. Difficulty with names, trouble retaining information, and struggles with planning and organization begin to increase at this point.
Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline
The cognitive decline progresses and the struggle with short-term memory and simple day-to-day tasks such as managing the home and paying bills become more apparent. Due to the progression of the disease, your loved one may become more irritable and have a tendency to experience mood swings and behavioural changes. Both the short-term and long-term memory are affected at this stage.
Stage 5: Initial Stage of Severe Decline
When it comes to this point, basic daily functions and everyday information such as addresses, phone numbers, dates, times, and places becoming confusing. At the stage, your loved one may need supervision and assistance with carrying out tasks. They are still likely to remember family and friends, and in most cases are still able to bathe and use the toilet without assistance.
Stage 6: Severe Decline
This phase is when the disease rapidly debilitates the person’s personality and mood. At this stage, your loved one will require frequent supervision in carrying everyday tasks and functions, including bladder and bowel control. They should be able to still recognize the faces of family members but my have trouble recalling names.
Stage 7: The Final Stage
At this stage, the disease has taken full effect on the person. Alzheimer’s Disease is a terminal illness, and patients in this stage are nearing death. They will require full monitoring and assistance in caring for themselves. The disease can hinder their ability to talk, and may cause reflex issues with their hands and feet. Keeping your loved one as comfortable as possible is the goal through this final stage.
No one wants to see a loved one suffer through this disease. Learn the stages of Alzheimer’s so that you can detect any initial signs in your loved one.
Qualicare Family Homecare provides comprehensive care for Alzheimer’s patients and their families throughout all stages of the disease. Our Alzheimer’s care services range from providing companionship and light housekeeping services in the initial phases to assisting with hygiene, daily activities, and coordinating healthcare in the middle stages, to providing palliative care in the final stage.
Contact us at 613.366.2899 for a free in-home consultation and see how we can work together to provide relief and support for the whole family.