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.
What Is The Outlook For People With Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease gets worse over time and is ultimately fatal. Persons with Alzheimers disease live, on average, four to eight years after diagnosis. Some patients can live as long as 20 years after diagnosis. The course of the disease varies from person to person.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/18/2019.
Review These 10 Warning Signs Of Alzheimers
Note especially if the changes youre seeing are more sudden, which may indicate a delirium or other physical problem that may be reversed with treatment. Its critical that a physician evaluate your loved one as soon as possible in this situation.
If the symptoms have been developing more gradually over time, it is more likely that theyre related to dementia, such as Alzheimers disease.
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Stage : Moderately Severe Decline
Your loved one might start to lose track of where they are and what time it is. They might have trouble remembering their address, phone number, or where they went to school. They could get confused about what kind of clothes to wear for the day or season.
You can help by laying out their clothing in the morning. It can help them dress by themselves and keep a sense of independence.
If they repeat the same question, answer with an even, reassuring voice. They might be asking the question less to get an answer and more to just know you’re there.
Even if your loved one can’t remember facts and details, they might still be able to tell a story. Invite them to use their imagination at those times.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems.
For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:
- confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
- difficulty planning or making decisions
- problems with speech and language
- problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
- personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
- hallucinations; and delusions
- low mood;or anxiety
Read more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
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Stage : Moderate Decline
During this period, the problems in thinking and reasoning that you noticed in stage 3 get more obvious, and new issues appear. Your friend or family member might:
- Forget details about themselves
- Have trouble putting the right date and amount on a check
- Forget what month or season it is
- Have trouble cooking meals or even ordering from a menu
- Struggle to use the telephone
- Not understand what is said to them
- Struggle to do tasks with multiple steps like cleaning the house.
You can help with everyday chores and their safety. Make sure they aren’t driving anymore, and that no one tries to take advantage of them financially.
Keep Things Simpleand Other Tips
Caregivers cannot stop Alzheimers-related changes in personality and behavior, but they can learn to cope with them. Here are some tips:
- Keep things simple. Ask or say one thing at a time.
- Have a daily routine, so the person knows when certain things will happen.
- Reassure the person that he or she is safe and you are there to help.
- Focus on his or her feelings rather than words. For example, say, You seem worried.
- Dont argue or try to reason with the person.
- Try not to show your frustration or anger. If you get upset, take deep breaths and count to 10. If its safe, leave the room for a few minutes.
- Use humor when you can.
- Give people who pace a lot a safe place to walk. Provide comfortable, sturdy shoes. Give them light snacks to eat as they walk, so they dont lose too much weight, and make sure they have enough to drink.
- Try using music, singing, or dancing to distract the person.
- Ask for help. For instance, say, Lets set the table or I need help folding the clothes.
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Encourage Them To See Their Doctor
If youve noticed that someone close to you is showing symptoms of dementia, its important to encourage them to see their doctor to talk through whats been going on.
Talking to someone about changes youve noticed in them can be difficult. It can help to have the conversation in a space where both of you are comfortable, are able to hear each other clearly and speak freely. Health Direct recommends starting the conversation by talking about what youve noticed and the other common reasons this might be happening. For example, you might say youve noticed the person has had trouble with their memory recently, and ask if theyve been stressed or not sleeping well. Then you can suggest that its time to see a doctor to find out whats happening.;;
If you dont have a close relationship with the person, you might talk to someone who knows them well about what youve noticed, see if theyve noticed the same things and ask them to bring it up with the person.
If a person remains resistant to following up about changes in their memory or behaviour, Dementia Australia recommends finding a different, physical reason to encourage the person to see the doctor, like an overall physical check-up, a blood pressure test or diabetes check. You can see more suggestions on what to do if the person you are concerned about does not want to see their doctor on the Dementia Australia website.
Get Family And Healthcare Providers Involved
If youre having difficulty communicating with a parent or other relative about Alzheimers, see if another family member or a close friend might be willing to try. Someone else may get better results.
If signs of early-stage Alzheimers are apparent, its also important to get the individual to see a doctor right away for a comprehensive evaluation for the disease.
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Early Onset Alzheimers Disease
Although age is the main risk factor for Alzheimers disease, this is not just a condition that affects older adults.
According to the Alzheimers Association, early onset Alzheimers disease affects around 200,000 U.S. adults under the age of 65 years. Many people with this condition are in their 40s or 50s.
In many cases, doctors do not know why younger people develop this condition. Several rare genes can cause the condition. When there is a genetic cause, it is known as familial Alzheimers disease.
At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia
There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.
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Can Cognitive Training Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Cognitive training involves structured activities designed to enhance memory, reasoning, and speed of processing. There is encouraging but inconclusive evidence that a specific, computer-based cognitive training may help delay or slow age-related cognitive decline. However, there is no evidence that it can prevent or delay Alzheimer’s-related cognitive impairment.
Studies show that cognitive training can improve the type of cognition a person is trained in. For example, older adults who received 10 hours of practice designed to enhance their speed and accuracy in responding to pictures presented briefly on a computer screen got faster and better at this specific task and other tasks in which enhanced speed of processing is important. Similarly, older adults who received several hours of instruction on effective memory strategies showed improved memory when using those strategies. The important question is whether such training has long-term benefits or translates into improved performance on daily activities like driving and remembering to take medicine.
Improve Your Lifestyle For Alzheimers Prevention
Healthy habits may help ward off Alzheimer’s. Consider the following steps to help prevent Alzheimers.
Exercise.;”The most convincing evidence is that physical exercise helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s or slow the progression in people who have symptoms,” says Dr. Marshall. “The recommendation is 30 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic exercise, three to four days per week.”
Eat a Mediterranean diet.;”This has been shown to help thwart Alzheimer’s or slow its progression. A recent study showed that even partial adherence to such a diet is better than nothing, which is relevant to people who may find it difficult to fully adhere to a new diet,” says Dr. Marshall. The diet includes fresh vegetables and fruits; whole grains; olive oil; nuts; legumes; fish; moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, and dairy; moderate amounts of red wine; and red meat only sparingly.
Get enough sleep.;”Growing evidence suggests that improved sleep can help prevent Alzheimer’s and is linked to greater amyloid clearance from the brain,” says Dr. Marshall. Aim for seven to eight hours per night.
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What Causes Alzheimers
The causes of Alzheimers disease are not yet fully understood, but probably include a combination of:
- Age-related changes in the brain, like shrinking, inflammation, blood vessel damage, and breakdown of energy within cells, which;may harm neurons and affect other brain cells.
- Changes or differences in genes, which may be passed down by a family member. Both types of Alzheimer’s the very rare early-onset type occurring between age 30 and mid-60s, and the most common late-onset type occurring after a persons mid-60s can be related to a persons genes in some way.;Many people with Down syndrome, a genetic condition, will develop Alzheimers as they age and may begin to show symptoms in their 40s.
- Health, environmental, and lifestyle factors that may play a role, such as exposure to pollutants, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
Watch this video to see how Alzheimers disease changes the brain.
Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
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What Are The Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Watch this video;play circle solid iconMemory Loss is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.
In addition to memory problems, someone with symptoms of Alzheimers disease may experience one or more of the following:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
- Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.
Even if you or someone you know has several or even most of these signs, it doesnt mean its Alzheimers disease. Know the 10 warning signs .
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
Tips For Caregivers And Families Of People With Dementia
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A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a caretaker, refers to anyone who provides care for another person. Millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimers disease or a related dementia. Sometimes caregivers live with the person or nearby, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia isnt just one persons job, but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities. No matter what kind of caregiver you are, taking care of another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and suggestions may help with everyday care and tasks.
Tip : Plan For The Future
While its not easy to think about, getting your finances in order and figuring out how you want your healthcare handled can give you a sense of power over your future. Talk with your loved ones and communicate your wishes. Discuss and document treatment and end-of-life preferences with your doctors and family members. Appoint someone you trust to make decisions for you when you can no longer make them for yourself.
Although these conversations may be difficult, making your wishes known can also be empowering. And by making important decisions early, youll avoid future medical, financial, and legal confusion.
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What Is The Burden Of Alzheimers Disease In The United States
- Alzheimers disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.2
- The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
- The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.3
In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimers disease.1 This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
In 2010, the costs of treating Alzheimers disease were projected to fall between $159 and $215 billion.4 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually.4
Death rates for Alzheimers disease are increasing, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that are on the decline.5 Dementia, including Alzheimers disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimers may be considerably higher.6
Tip : Pursue Activities That Bring You Meaning And Joy
Having Alzheimers or another dementia doesnt mean your life has to stop moving forward. By pursuing meaningful activities and relationships, you can continue to nourish your spirit and find pleasure and purpose in life.
Even when symptoms advance and certain activities become difficult, you can still find other ways to nurture and enrich your spirit. If you can no longer paint, for example, you may still be able to visit museums and appreciate the art of others. Or if you can no longer cook, you may still be able to devise the menu and help shop for ingredients.
While we all have different ways of experiencing meaning and joy, you may want to:
Pursue your favorite hobbies and interests. Engaging in activities that are important to you can help maintain your identity as well as enrich your life. Try taking a class or joining a club to keep your interest growing or to explore new activities.
Build your legacy. In the early stages of dementia, many people are mindful of how they want to be remembered. Maybe you want to pass on your skills and knowledge to others, or leave a record of your life for your grandchildren to enjoy. You might want to create photo albums, write your memoirs or a how-to book, share your favorite recipes, make a record of family traditions, or research your family history. Or perhaps you simply want to spend time with your closest loved ones to create new memories.
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Support For Family And Friends
Currently, many people living with Alzheimers disease are cared for at home by family members. Caregiving can have positive aspects for the caregiver as well as the person being cared for. It may bring personal fulfillment to the caregiver, such as satisfaction from helping a family member or friend, and lead to the development of new skills and improved family relationships.
Although most people willingly provide care to their loved ones and friends, caring for a person with Alzheimers disease at home can be a difficult task and may become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. As the disease gets worse, people living with Alzheimers disease often need more intensive care.