According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease get a diagnosis after age 65. If Alzheimer’s is diagnosed before age 65, it is usually referred to as early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is a great task. You will experience a range of emotions as a caregiver. You may need help and support, as well as time off from your duties. Support groups can help you learn and exchange best practices and strategies for coping with difficult situations.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, with people living an average of four to eight years after diagnosis. It will be easier to cope if you know what to expect from each stage of the seven stages of the disease, and if you are able to get help from family, friends or a local homecare company like Right at Home.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means the symptoms will gradually worsen over time. Caregiver support will increase as the stages of the disease advance. Right at Home can help manage these symptoms as they progress.
Stages One to Three usually do not require home care help unless there are other underlying health concerns.
Stage 1: Preclinical Alzheimer’s or no impairment
Caregiver Support: Someone in this stage is fully independent. They may not even know they have the disease.
Stage 2: Very mild impairment or normal forgetfulness
For Stage 2 Alzheimer’s, the decline will happen at a greater rate than similarly aged people without Alzheimer’s. For example, they may forget familiar words, a family member’s name, or where they placed something.
Caregiver Support: Symptoms at stage 2 will not interfere with work or social activities. Memory troubles are still very mild and may not be apparent to friends and family.
Stage 3: Mild impairment or decline
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are less clear during stage 3. Only people close to someone in this stage may notice the signs. Work quality will decline, and they may have trouble learning new skills.
Caregiver Support: At this stage, someone with Alzheimer’s may need counseling, especially if they have complex job responsibilities. They may experience mild to moderate anxiety and denial.
Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer’s or moderate decline
Stage 4 marks the beginning of diagnosable Alzheimer’s disease. There will be more trouble with complex but everyday tasks. Mood changes such as withdrawal and denial are more evident. Decreased emotional response is also frequent, especially in a challenging situation.
Caregiver Support: It will still be possible for someone to recall weather conditions, important events, and addresses. But they may ask for help with other tasks such as writing checks, ordering food, and buying groceries. A trained Right at Home caregiver can help by shopping and performing errands for the clients.
Stage 5: Moderate dementia or moderately severe decline
Stage 5 requires a lot of support. Those who do not have enough support often experience feelings of anger and suspiciousness. 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. They will also show some confusion regarding time or place and have difficulty counting backward.
Caregiver Support: Assistance will be needed with daily tasks and can no longer live independently. Personal hygiene and eating will not be an issue yet, but they may have trouble picking the right clothing for the weather or taking care of finances. Right at Home’s trained caregivers can assist with dressing, personal hygiene and eating.
Stage 6: Moderately severe Alzheimer’s
During stage 6, there are five identifiable characteristics:
- Clothes: In addition to being unable to choose their clothes, someone with stage 6 Alzheimer’s will need help putting them on correctly.
- Hygiene: A decline in oral and personal hygiene begins and they will need help bathing or brushing their teeth.
- Toilet: At first, some people will forget to flush or throw tissue paper away. As the disease progresses, they will lose control of their bladder and bowels and need help with cleanliness.
Caregiver Support: Assistance with personal care, from daily tasks to hygiene, is necessary by this stage. They may also start to sleep more during the day and wander at night. Right at Home’s highly trained caregivers are available 24/7 to help prevent harm to a client, assist with all ADLs and provide timely medication reminders.
Stage 7: Severe Alzheimer’s
Body movements will become more rigid and cause severe pain. About 40 percent of people with Alzheimer’s also form contractures, or shortening and hardening of muscles, tendons, and other tissues. Total loss of speech is also a factor. They will also develop infantile reflexes like sucking.
Caregiver Support: At this stage, the individual’s ability to respond to the environment is lost. They will need help with almost all their daily tasks, including eating or moving. Some people will become immobile during this stage. The most frequent cause of death in someone with stage 7 Alzheimer’s is pneumonia. Right at Home’s caregivers can provide care during this final stage.
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