Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and many require consistent care for their health. A supportive community can make a difference for someone with Alzheimer’s, especially in the later stages of this disease, where many require 24-hour care for their health and wellness.
There are 7 stages of Alzheimer’s, and understanding this disease can help you determine the amount of supportive care your loved one needs. Consider this your guide on the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder causing the brain to atrophy (shrink). This disease is a common form of dementia, with around 5.8 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s. As this disease progresses, the brain cells die, and there is a decline in thinking, social and behavioral skills, affecting a person’s ability to live independently.
While memory loss is the main symptom of Alzheimer’s, the disease affects several aspects of daily life. Performing familiar tasks may be more difficult, and personality changes may occur as well. Alzheimer’s can affect your:
- Thinking & reasoning
- Judgments & decisions
- Personality & behavior
Medications may temporarily slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, but no treatments can cure this disease. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s, you may not notice the symptoms until they progress. This disease has 7 stages of progression, each being more severe than the last.
The 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
The best way to support a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s is to understand how this disease progresses and affects someone. There are 7 total stages, but there are no concrete symptoms someone will experience. The symptoms may vary, but these stages estimate how affected someone is by Alzheimer’s disease.
Normal Outward Behaviour
The initial stage of Alzheimer’s may not have any noticeable symptoms at all. Changes are happening in the brain, but nothing you can naturally notice. An imaging test like a PET scan can show how the brain is working.
While you may not notice any differences in your loved one yet, Alzheimer’s progression will lead to several changes related to memory, social and behavioral skills.
Very Mild Changes
Changes in this stage of Alzheimer’s are typically mild, and a doctor may not notice any symptoms. Your loved one may forget words or misplace objects around the house. Cognitive changes at this point are not severe, and your loved one can likely work and live independently.
At this stage, you’ll likely notice some changes in your loved one’s abilities. An official Alzheimer’s diagnosis is common because their daily routine may become more difficult to manage. In this stage of disease, your loved one may:
- Forget information they just learned
- Repeatedly ask the same question
- Have trouble organizing their plans
- Not remember names of new people
Anxiety is common for your loved ones in this stage; they may not fully understand something is wrong. Working can become difficult, so retirement may be beneficial to ease your loved one’s mind.
This stage of Alzheimer’s is where more cognitive function suffers. Besides memory, your loved one may have difficulties with language, organization, and other daily tasks. You may notice they have troubles with:
- Details about themselves
- Remembering what month it is
- Choosing clothes
- Sleeping properly
- Cooking meals or ordering food
Activities requiring lots of thinking may frustrate or overwhelm your loved one. You can help them with remembering dates and other events. Changes in mood or personality are common in this stage.
Moderately Severe Decline
In more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one may have trouble remembering where they are or what time it is. At this point, independence can be a challenge. Basic tasks such as getting dressed may be difficult.
Emotional changes are common, and your loved one may have delusions or be unsure of what is real. If they repeat the same question to you, answer with a reassuring voice. Your loved one may not be asking for an answer, but more to know that you’re there.
At this stage of Alzheimer’s, many significantly decline in their ability to manage their care. Communicating specific thoughts and feelings may be difficult, and personality changes will likely occur, such as anxiety or frustration.
At this point, your loved one likely requires consistent care. If this is difficult, looking into memory care options may be beneficial. Specialized care for older adults with dementia provides 24-hour care, a safe environment, and daily supervision from medical professionals.
Very Severe Decline
In the most advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, abilities like eating, walking, and sitting up become difficult. Your loved one likely needs constant care, and having a dedicated professional to help with hygiene, nutrition, and exercise can help them stay as healthy as possible.
Alzheimer’s can be a difficult and confusing experience, but senior communities can offer memory care to provide 24-hour support. With attentive staff, your loved one can have their needs taken care of in a relaxing, anxiety-free environment.
Consistent Support for Your Loved One
In the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, many need consistent care for their health and quality of life. While dementia affects many abilities, your loved one can still experience plenty of joy and activity. Many skills such as singing, dancing, and drawing preserve despite memory loss.
Memory care options can allow residents to enjoy their favorite activities in a safe environment dedicated to their needs. With consistent health and wellness support, your loved one is in good hands. If you’re interested in memory care options, contact your local senior community.