When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it can be heartbreaking. While this disease can progress over several years, it’s always hard to watch someone you love slowly lose their memory. But it’s important to make the most of the time you have with them—and in order to do this, you should fully understand what happens as Alzheimer’s progresses. To give you a better understanding of what to expect, let’s discuss the 7 stages of alzheimer’s and what each stage can entail.
No Signs of Impairment
The first stage of Alzheimer’s disease is when there are no noticeable signs or symptoms of the disease. In this stage, people are considered to have a completely healthy mental state.
Very Minor Memory Loss
As people age, they tend to face minor memory problems, like recalling names of childhood friends or forgetting where they put their keys—and this is what happens during the second stage of Alzheimer’s disease. But while all people over the age of 65 face these memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease is different than normal aged forgetfulness.
Minor Yet Noticeable Decline
After someone with Alzheimer’s begins to have very minor memory problems, they will then begin to show signs of noticeable memory decline. People who are close to the senior suffering from memory problems will start to notice that they’re having cognitive problems. During this stage, Alzheimer’s patients may have difficulty planning a schedule or events and remembering the names of people they recently met. If someone is still working during this stage, they may find it difficult to learn new skills and their job performance may also decline.
Mild to Moderate Memory Decline
This is the stage where most patients are officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms shown in this stage are very noticeable to those around the senior citizen and may include things like poor short-term memory, having trouble with simple math or english, and having trouble remembering certain life events.
During this stage, family members and friends should do what they can to stimulate their loved one’s memory. This can be done by helping them keep a journal or a planner or investing in cheap canvas prints or photo albums to show them pictures of family and important events. Photos play an integral role in helping those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease remember certain parts of their life. Even writing detailed lists of past and current events can help significantly.
Moderate to Severe Memory Decline
At this stage, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may require help with simple, daily activities. Someone in this stage of Alzheimer’s could have difficulty choosing appropriate clothing, remembering phone numbers, and paying bills on time. This stage also includes symptoms like not being able to remember where they live, the school they attended or the year they graduated, or even being able to recall the weather conditions of the day before. During this stage, some days may be better than others — one day, short-term memory may be good and then the next day it could be poor. Many people in this stage are able to live semi-independently but require the help of a caretaker for daily tasks.
Severe Memory Decline
This stage of Alzheimer’s disease is when patients require constant care—oftentimes, Alzheimer’s patients will move into an assisted living home or have a caretaker that lives with them in their house. This stage can often include not being able to recognize friends and family members, aimlessly wandering and forgetting where they’re going, and overall confusion. People in this stage usually need help with basic tasks like eating, bathing, and going to the bathroom. Because people in this stage can wander and express personality changes, it’s best to have someone supervising them at all times for their own safety.
Very Severe Memory Decline
Unfortunately, there currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease so the seventh stage occurs when the patient is near the end of their life. During this stage, patients may not respond to people talking to them and may have trouble moving on their own.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s may come as a shock or it can be expected. But either way, it can be difficult to process. So it’s important to do plenty of research, invest in the best care possible, and show your loved one that you support them in whatever way you can.