Although each case of Alzheimer’s is unique, doctors and researchers have identified seven stages of the disease. Familiarity with these stages helps family members plan for the future.
Stage one: No impairment
Your loved one is fully functional with little sign of memory loss. At this stage a medical examiner could not diagnose Alzheimer’s.
Stage two: Very mild cognitive decline
You notice what seems to be just the normal aging process. There is some slight memory loss and confusion, especially with names and /or locations. The issues are not apparent to a medical examiner.
Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline
Your loved one begins to show signs of Alzheimer’s (see last weeks blog entry for the signs). Memory loss becomes more obvious to family members and friends. A medical examiner may be able to spot some deficiencies.
Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline
At this stage symptoms become clear to a medical examiner. These symptoms can include forgetfulness of recent events or personal history, trouble with planning, and changes in behavior.
Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline
Gaps in memory become more noticeable and help with day-to-day living might be necessary, although your loved one is still able to feed him or herself and go to the bathroom on their own. Tasks like choosing what clothing would be appropriate for the weather or remembering a phone number become more difficult.
Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline
Memory continues to worsen and significant personal changes begin to occur. Your loved one’s ability to remember personal history begins to decline. Although your loved one may be able to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar people they sometimes have problems with names of spouses or caregivers. They start to need help with simple day-to-day tasks like eating and using the restroom.
Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline
In the final stage the body begins to shut down. There is a gradual loss of the ability to speak and eventually, the ability to control movement. Someone at this stage of decline needs a great deal of care.
Knowing the stages of Alzheimer’s can help you determine and prepare for what kind of care your loved one will need. If you need more resources you can visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at http://www.alz.org/apps/findus.asp, which will provide you with more information about symptoms and what kind care your loved one needs.
Caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s , at best, can be a very stressful time. If you need more information or assistance, feel free to call the Trillium office at 248-539-0714. Remember, we’re here to help.