Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and a neurological brain disorder. It not only affects the patient, the patient’s family and friends, but also consumes the energy, physically and mentally, of the caregiver. There are 3 main Alzheimer disease stages.
Patients who are first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the early stage of the disease start off with a seemingly common occurrence of forgetting the names of people, places or objects. Doctors have found that the first memory to leave is the memory of past smells – such as cinnamon. Eventually these memory lapses happen more frequently and regularly.
People in this early stage usually notice these changes but find ways to compensate for them and deny that there is a problem. They focus the blame on others in their life or become upset with themselves. This is often because they know what is coming in the next months and years.
In this early Alzheimer disease stage the person has some notable memory lapses but is capable of managing a normal lifestyle and their routine isn’t interrupted. This early stage or mild dementia can last for several years.
Once the disease reaches the mild or middle stage of disease the person will note other cognitive impairments and personality changes. It isn’t uncommon for the person affected to repeat questions, become confused, misplace things, withdraw, become disoriented, lose math skills, and have increasing episodes of decreased thought process or cognitive ability. This is demonstrated by their inability to respond properly or comprehend written or verbal language. In this mild or middle stage of Alzheimer’s the person may also develop anger, frustration and peculiar behaviors.
Also in this mid stage of Alzheimer’s behaviors are more prevalent and there is a decline in their activities of daily living skills making them more dependent on others for routine care such as bathing, dressing and eating.
In the final Alzheimer disease stage, or stage 3, there is a complete decline in the mental abilities of the person as well as their physical functioning. The parts of the brain are now damaged which leads to a decreased ability to focus the ability of the body and systems to function appropriately. People who knew them before the disease recognize they are only a shell of their former selves.
In the late Alzheimer disease stage the care is almost continuous which leaves the caregiver exhausted and depleted. It is at this stage that most people with Alzheimer’s receive their care in a nursing facility. This can be a difficult and emotional decision for caregivers, family and friends.
People who suffer from this disease will go through specific stages but will exhibit symptoms on an individual basis. Living each day independent of what happened on the previous day will often help the caregivers to cope with the unrelenting physical and emotional care that is required.