Many people know that Alzheimer’s disease is degenerative, meaning that it gets worse over time. However, few know that there are actually Alzheimer’s stages through which the disease progresses. If you know these stages, you may know what to expect next for the care of your Alzheimer’s patient.
In the first two Alzheimer’s stages, there is little impairment (none at first) and then slight memory lapses when it comes to familiar words, phrases, and names. These memory lapses may not be apparent to friends and family, and may even be easily dismissed as due to old age.
In the next two Alzheimer’s stages, the memory lapses become more apparent to those closest to the patient. Names become forgotten or easily confused, concentration is difficult, and performance issues may show up at one’s place of employment. In these Alzheimer’s stages, tasks that are somewhat complicated are the ones most missed, such as planning dinner for many people, doing math exercises in the head, and recalling personal history. Again, while these problems are more obvious, they may still be dismissed as just common problems with old age, declining health, stress, and the like.
In the last of the Alzheimer’s stages, more common issues become apparent. The patient may have difficulty choosing proper clothing for the weather or occasion and even dressing correctly (putting street clothes on over pajamas, shoes on the wrong feet), remembering the name of their spouse or other close family members, and with things such as simple hygiene and bathroom habits. In these last Alzheimer’s stages, the patient will have problems with all matters of hygiene and may experience incontinence, and may even have difficulty sitting, standing, walking, and with normal reflexes. Swallowing is difficult, as is even holding up their head.
The progression of these Alzheimer’s stages will be different for everyone and will go at a different pace for each patient. Some notice the disease progressing rapidly, some will take years before they reach the end stages.
There are new medications and therapies being developed every day for the treatment of this disease, so it’s important that you recognize the Alzheimer’s stages as they progress so that your doctor can assist you every step of the way, and so that you know what to expect and how to deal with the situation. There may not yet be a cure for Alzheimer’s but there are ways to delay its onset and its progression.