Helping A Loved One’s Family Understand The Stages Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Pegasus Home Health Care is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our hiring practices. We believe in creating healthcare teams with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and views. Although we may have different outlooks, we and our professionals all support the goal of providing superior care to others.
Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in Chatsworth and elsewhere assist clients in meeting their health challenges. Their patients may include individuals with cognitive impairments. Career home health care nurses help families understand the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease in their loved ones.
Although young individuals sometimes develop Alzheimer’s, it primarily affects individuals past age 65. It’s a progressive disease, and most patients don’t survive for more than eight years. However, individuals can live with it for 20 years.
Alzheimer’s Disease Is A Type Of Dementia
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a broad term for a variety of cognitive impairments. In general, all dementia involves the loss of the ability to:
- Make good judgments
- Speak coherently
- Think, solve problems, organize, or plan
Individuals may exhibit changes in their personality or behavior. They become less able to function as the disease progresses. They eventually lose all ability to care for themselves.
Medical science divides the progression of Alzheimer’s into stages. The stages are general descriptions, and the lines between them can be blurry.
All patients pass through the stages. However, they don’t all experience each stage at the same rate. Nor does every patient experience every symptom in every stage.
Researchers and healthcare providers may use different numbers of stages. That’s to help them better understand the nuances of the disease. Five stages are in everyday use, as follows:
- Preclinical: individuals do not have noticeable symptoms. Modern technology has enabled researchers to identify the beta-amyloid plaques that are a precursor to Alzheimer’s. That allows early detection and treatment.
- Mild cognitive impairment (MCI): MCI may or may not signal Alzheimer’s. Individuals experience barely noticeable symptoms. However, MCI helps in early diagnosis and treatment.
- Mild or early stage: Individuals begin to exhibit noticeable symptoms.
- Moderate or middle stage: Symptoms become increasingly noticeable, and individuals experience a significant loss of their ability to function.
- Severe or late stage: Individuals in the late stage cannot care for themselves.
Other medical conditions affect the symptoms and progression of each stage in many patients.
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, but we know families cope with the condition every day. Pegasus expert in-home caregivers describe what families can expect as their loved one progresses through each stage.
Symptoms Of Early Stage Alzheimer’s
Individuals in the early stage are generally independent. But they and their families notice increasing forgetfulness. They may also notice slight personality and behavioral changes.
Patients start forgetting events, information, names, and words. It becomes challenging to organize, plan, or complete tasks. They lose or misplace possessions.
Some individuals become confused about time or where they are. They may start asking the same questions repetitively. Others can continue doing things they enjoy, but any activity may take longer.
In the early stages, individuals are usually still able to make decisions. Although it may be difficult, families need to discuss financial plans with them. It’s also the time to consider end-of-life wishes while their loved one can still express their desires.
Symptoms Of Middle Stage Alzheimer’s
The middle stage is usually the longest. Behavioral and personality changes increase. Individuals may become physically or verbally abusive. Many don’t sleep well.
Families will also have to make changes to keep the home environment safe for their loved one. Patients with middle-stage Alzheimer’s should not live alone, nor should they drive.
As their disease progresses, they may not recognize family members. They may become suspicious of familiar people, or become delusional or paranoid. Others hallucinate.
Symptoms Of Late Stage Alzheimer’s
The individual’s body begins shutting down in late-stage Alzheimer’s. There is little to no communication, and minimal awareness, if any, of surroundings. Patients are completely dependent on others.
They often lose control of their bladder and bowel and may experience seizures. Swallowing is difficult, and patients aren’t interested in eating. Patients are unable to perform any of the activities of daily living.
Physical ability declines, and the patient may become bedridden. Skin and other infections are common. Individuals with late-stage Alzheimer’s often die of aspiration pneumonia.
We Invite You To Join Our Team
Pegasus professional in-home caregivers in Chatsworth and our other locations are experienced in providing all levels of care. Individuals are treated with dignity and respect for their privacy regardless of their medical needs. Our career home health care nurses offer expert assistance to the families of loved ones with cognitive impairments.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. We’re proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We invite professionals who are dedicated to improving the lives of others to join our team today.