The 7 Stages Of Alzheimers: What You Can Do As A Caregiver In The Fourth Stage
- Support your wellbeing by learning to be present with your loved one as they exist now. Find a support group
- Support your loved one by establishing a new routine or keeping them active and engaged with other people. Get a professional to assess driving capability if theyre still driving. Learn new ways of communicating:
- always agree and never argue
- be patient with repetitive questions
- stay positive
Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
How Do You Know What Stage Of Alzheimer’s Disease A Loved One Is In
The stages of Alzheimers disease presented in this post offer a reasonable framework from which to observe symptoms and understand the progression of the disease. Since there is no medical consensus for Alzheimers stages, as there is with cancer, it is important for caregivers to be aware of the individual symptoms and situation that their patient or loved one is experiencing. While healthcare providers may refer to a patients condition as late or early stage, any specific stage is less important than the context and understanding of what this means for care going forward.
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Stage #3 Of Alzheimers: Mild Decline
At this stage, you may begin to notice small behavioral changes. But, they could still be associated with normal aging and forgetfulness.
The first noticeable aspect is memory issues.
For instance, its harder to remember peoples names. You may have trouble remembering the name of someone who just introduced themselves or what they do for work.
And its not just because you focus on what you were saying during the introduction. Its generally more of a need to ask the same question repeatedly.
Name remembering aside, someone in this stage might also experience other symptoms, like forgetting plans they made shortly before. Or losing valuables, like a wallet or credit cards, or not finding keys where you normally place them.
Note that theres a significant difference between, where did I put my keys? and why are my keys in the fridge?
These are the signs that something more severe than normal forgetfulness could be going on, especially if these symptoms persist over time.
Stage One: No Cognitive Impairment
In the first stage, Alzheimers disease is usually undetectable as a person with Alzheimers does not show any memory impairment. This stage is also known as no cognitive decline or pre-clinical Alzheimers disease, and likely begins 10 to 15 years before symptoms start to become noticeable. There is currently no treatment in this pre-clinical stage.
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Stage : Severe Decline
As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one might recognize faces but forget names. They might also mistake a person for someone else, for instance, think their wife is their mother. Delusions might set in, such as thinking they need to go to work even though they no longer have a job.
You might need to help them go to the bathroom.
It might be hard to talk, but you can still connect with them through the senses. Many people with Alzheimer’s love hearing music, being read to, or looking over old photos.
At this stage, your loved one might struggle to:
- Feed themselves
- Changes in their sleeping patterns
Stage : Moderately Severe Symptoms
At this stage, your loved one may experience difficulty dressing appropriately or remembering details about themselves. However, they might still have some level of functionality, such as the ability to use the bathroom alone. But, their confusion towards many basic activities might be getting worse at this stage.
You can help your family member by creating a list to follow. The list could include their phone number, address, emergency contacts, and medication details. If there is no one at home to take care of them, you need to ensure that they have a guideline to follow at all times. However, the best step at this point is to ensure that they are not left alone for a long time.
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What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease To Progress So Quickly
The progression of Alzheimers disease varies widely between individuals, with most people living with the condition for between 3 and 11 years after the initial diagnosis. In some cases, people may survive for more than 20 years. When Alzheimers is detected early, there are possible treatments that can help to slow the progression of the disease and contribute to a longer life expectancy.
It is therefore crucial to plan for the future and follow the progression of the disease through each stage. Alzheimers disease first begins with physical changes in the brain. This can happen at a gradual pace before any noticeable symptoms appear. In fact, this pre-clinical Alzheimers disease stage can begin 10 to 15 years before any symptoms appear.
What Is The Third Stage Of Alzheimers Symptoms
During this stage, friends and family may notice your memory is getting worse. You may forget the names of new acquaintances, something you just read, lose items, including valuables, or words during conversation. You may have difficulties with planning and organization. Your performance on cognitive tests will be impacted. Doctors may be able to diagnose you with Alzheimers using a cognitive test like the MoCA.
Early Warning Signs To Be Aware Of
As the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease affects a patient’s memory, cognitive abilities, and bodily functions that heavily affects their daily lives. The common warning signs of early onset Alzheimer’s, which are seen at the different stages, include memory loss, difficulty planning and solving problems, trouble completing familiar or routine tasks, and issues determining the time and place of where they are. Other symptoms to be aware of are difficulty finding the right words and speech issues, misplacing items often around the home, making decisions can be challenging, withdrawn from work and social events, significant personality and mood changes, and not taking care of their physical hygiene and appearance as often.
What To Do Next After Learning What Stage Of Alzheimer’s Disease Your Loved One Is In
As mentioned, learning about the stage of Alzheimers disease that a loved one is experiencing helps provide perspective and context. This knowledge makes it easier to have conversations with doctors about the patients condition and how to approach future treatment options. Understanding the later stages of the disease also helps when planning for lifestyle changes, new equipment, and other items that may be needed. One of the other major benefits in understanding the overall progression of Alzheimers disease is preparing for future living arrangements, such a memory care community, that could become a preferred option during later stages of the disease. Because the cost of dementia care is high, families should begin planning as soon as possible following a diagnosis.
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Stage #6 Of Alzheimers: Severe Decline
As the stages of Alzheimers progress, your loved one might recognize faces but forget names. They might also mistake a person for someone else to think their husband is their son.
Delusions, such as thinking they need to go to work or pick up their children, when in fact, theyve retired years ago, may happen. At this point, youll likely find yourself helping them with basic tasks, like going to the bathroom from time to time.
Focus on connecting with Alzheimers patients through senses many people are comforted by using music as therapy or reading stories aloud basically, something that triggers emotional memory from happier, more vibrant times.
If you want to see the powerful impact of music memory, check out this heartfelt 6-minute clip from the documentary Alive Inside, where Alzheimers patient Henry comes alive after hearing music that triggers deep memories from his youth.
Even at this late stage, looking over old photos brings up emotional memories of happier times that will hopefully remind both of you just how special your relationship is.
Mild Impairment Or Decline
The symptoms of Alzheimers are less clear during stage 3. While the entire stage lasts about 7 years, the symptoms will slowly become clearer over a period of 2 to 4 years. Only people close to someone in this stage may notice the signs. Work quality will decline, and they may have trouble learning new skills.
Other examples of stage 3 signs include:
- getting lost even when traveling a familiar route
- finding it hard to remember the right words or names
- being unable to remember what you just read
- not remembering new names or people
- misplacing or losing a valuable object
Your doctor or clinician may also have to conduct a more intense interview than usual to discover cases of memory loss.
Caregiver support: At this stage, someone with Alzheimers may need counseling, especially if they have complex job responsibilities. They may experience mild to moderate anxiety and denial.
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Stage : Severe Symptoms
People in this stage often have trouble responding to their environment, managing their own care, and communicating specific thoughts. Because of this, they are usually dependent on others around them to care for them. They may also experience increased anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and frustration.
Stage Three: Mild Cognitive Decline
This stage of Alzheimers involves noticeable memory difficulties, thus making it difficult to blame old age alone for the mild decline in cognition. Given that this stage of the disease is marked by a noticeable disruption to the activities of daily living, now is often the time when most Alzheimers patients receive a diagnosis. Besides misplacing personal possessions, they may also have difficulty forming the right words or phrases during a conversation. Remembering the names of acquaintances may also be difficult during this stage.
A great way to help your loved ones during this stage is by helping them with some daily tasks, such as helping them schedule appointments.
Stage : 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 : Mild Cognitive Decline
In stage three, individuals start to experience increased forgetfulness, difficulty with focus and trouble concentrating. The disease symptoms are beginning to advance to the point that they may result in decreased work performance. Those who arent working may experience decreased performance with ordinary household tasks, such as paying bills and cleaning.
Some of the symptoms a person may exhibit in stage three are:
- Getting lost sometimes
- Struggling with finding the right words when communicating
- Forgetting something they just read
- Asking the same question repeatedly
- Finding it challenging to make plans or organize
- Inability to remember names when meeting new people
- Losing items frequently, including valuables
In stage three, performance on a memory test would be affected, and a physician may detect impaired cognitive function.
The average duration of stage three is approximately 7 years before the onset of dementia.
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The 7 Stages Of Alzheimers: What You Can Do As A Caregiver In The Last Stage
- Support your loved one by speaking to a doctor about medication options to make the patient more comfortable. Communicate with doctors at what point medical intervention should not be considered
- Support your wellbeing by understanding the ways the disease ends and trying to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally
- Plan for the future by looking into palliative care options or preparing for end-of-life arrangements
The Seven Stages Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that leads to personality changes, memory loss, intellectual slowing, and other symptoms. Although each person with Alzheimer’s is different, most progress through a series of stages, each of which is characterized by more serious Alzheimer’s symptoms.
The following seven stages were developed by researchers and physicians to describe how a person with dementia could change over time. Your doctor might collapse the seven stages into early/middle/late or mild/moderate/severe, so these classifications are provided as well. . It is important to note here that dementia affects every person in different ways so not everyone will experience the same symptoms or problems or necessarily follow the same pattern of decline. These ‘stages’ are used for guidance purposes only. Although the stages provide a blueprint for the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms, not everyone advances through the stages similarly. Caregivers report that their loved ones sometimes seem to be in two or more stages at once, and the rate at which people advance through the stages is highly individual. Still, the stages help us understand Alzheimer’s symptoms and prepare for their accompanying challenges.
Stage 1 There are no problems with memory, orientation, judgment, communication, or daily activities. You or your loved one is a normally functioning adult.
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What Causes Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers cause is not yet fully understood. That said, the disease is theorized to be triggered by the abnormal build-up of proteins around brain cells. One of these proteins is called amyloid, which forms plaques. Another protein deposit involved is called tau. Tau creates tangles in the brain cells.
While the exact cause of what causes these proteins to build up is not known, researchers know that the process begins years before symptoms occur.
Moderate Dementia Or Moderately Severe Decline
Stage 5 lasts about 1 1/2 years and requires a lot of support. Those who dont have enough support often experience feelings of anger and suspicion.
People in this stage will remember their own names and close family members, but major events, weather conditions, or their current address can be difficult to recall. Theyll also show some confusion regarding time or place and have difficulty counting backward.
Caregiver support: People will need assistance with daily tasks and can no longer live independently. Personal hygiene and eating wont be an issue yet, but they may have trouble picking the right clothing for the weather or taking care of finances.
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Stage Six: Severe Cognitive Decline
In this stage, patients will require constant supervision and professional care. They may experience bladder and bowel incontinence and have diminished speech ability. They will also likely need assistance with daily activities like showering or dressing and grooming themselves. Some patients may also suffer from delusions and constant anxiety.
Stage : Moderate Alzheimers
In stage four of Alzheimers, symptoms of the disease become increasingly apparent. Individuals at this stage are likely to suffer from increased confusion and forgetfulness more frequently. They may forget same-day events or experience difficulty completing simple arithmetic. The person may find it increasingly harder to socialize while experiencing increased confusion and changes in their thinking. As a result, they may begin to withdraw and isolate themselves from friends and loved ones.
Common Difficulties of Moderate Alzheimers
- Difficulty with simple math
- Poor short-term memory
- Forgetting personal details about themselves and their past
- Difficulty socializing, withdrawing from family and friends
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Understanding The 7 Stages Of Alzheimers
When it comes to memory loss, you might be wondering what to expect as you age.
We all indeed experience some degree of physical and mental decline, but dementia and the stages of Alzheimers are a whole nother level.
Over the last decades, Alzheimers has been on the rise and its not looking to change direction any time soon. In fact, in the US alone, a staggering 12.7 million people over age 65 are projected to have Alzheimers dementia by 2050, and 13.8 million by 2060.
Whats more, one in three seniors sadly passes with Alzheimers or another dementia.
Were not sharing these stats and stages of Alzheimers to depress you, but rather to alert you to the importance of being proactive and learning more about the rampant disease.
It makes a tremendous difference for both you and your loved ones.
To help you better prepare for the future, we explain the seven stages of Alzheimers, each of which can last anywhere from a few months to several years.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this condition, it is so helpful to know the prognosis for each stage.
If you or someone you love has NOT been diagnosed, it is also extremelyhelpful to learn about the seven stages of Alzheimers.
So, without further ado, here they are.
Stage : No Cognitive Decline
In stage one, there are no changes seen, felt, or measured. Most of us reading this article right now are in stage 1.
What to do
The best thing to do at this stage is to make a plan for the possibility of dementia. Make sure that your care wishes are in order. Eat well, move your body, and practice cognitive-boosting activities to reduce your risk of Alzheimers. Work on reducing your own internalized negative ideas about aging and dementia. Keeping a positive attitude and gathering the necessary documents early on can help ease anxiety around the possibility of dementia.
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