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Preparing for Alzheimer’s Disease: Understanding the Different Stages

The progression of Alzheimer’s disease is typically broken into three stages:  mild (early-stage), moderate, and severe (late-stage).  Deepening your understanding of these stages can help you anticipate what will likely happen to your loved one as the disease advances, and you will be better prepared to care for them.

During the early stage of the disease, most people suffer from mild forgetfulness and experience slight changes in their personality. For example, they might have trouble recalling the names of acquaintances or remembering what they did last week.  Moderate stage Alzheimer’s is characterized by a further loss of memory and more pronounced personality changes.  Your loved one may require help with daily hygiene and start to suffer from incontinence.  As confusion sets in, people in this stage of the disease often become angry and may kick, scream or curse.  Their judgement is no longer sound, and they require constant supervision for their safety.  During sever, or late stage Alzheimer’s, your loved one will likely require help with all of their daily needs.  Speech becomes impaired, they often cannot recognize loved ones, and they may eventually lose the ability to walk or even sit up without support.  Difficulty swallowing may cause them to stop eating.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely overwhelming.  While you are trying to cope with the changes your loved one is going through and handling the emotional burden of watching the disease change their memories and personality, there are endless physical demands on you to bathe, feed, dress, and transport them.  The National Institute on Aging has prepared a helpful guide called “Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease” that addresses many of the common concerns and questions people have.  It is also critical to plan ahead with this disease.  You will require help caring for your loved one as the disease progresses—maybe you still work full or part-time or your own health status limits your ability to handle the daily physical demands—and it is a good idea to look into your options for care before you require them.  Using an in-home senior care company like Home Care Plus is a great way to let your loved one remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.