It’s the last piece of news you wanted to hear when sitting with your Mom at the doctor as He delicately explains how her confusion and slight memory loss are the signs and symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease. Your arm is already around her as you pull her in even tighter trying to be strong for her all while your own emotions are erratic and the pain of the news you’ve just heard slowly sinks in. It’s terminal. There is no cure. You look into her eyes and tell her it’s going to be ok; that you will take care of her and that she has nothing to worry about. All the while you have no idea how to prepare for what’s ahead.
The A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia describes Alzheimer’s as a form of Dementia. “Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is one form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Memory impairment, as well as problems with language, decision-making ability, judgment, and personality, are necessary features for the diagnosis.”
There are 7 stages that the disease typically follows as it develops in the patient:
|Stage 1:||No impairment (normal function)
The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia.
|Stage 2:||Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease)
The person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses — forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. But no symptoms of dementia can be detected during a medical examination or by friends, family or co-workers.
|Stage 3:||Mild cognitive decline (early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms)
Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration. Common stage 3 difficulties include:
|Stage 4:||Moderate cognitive decline
(Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
At this point, a careful medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut symptoms in several areas:
|Stage 5:||Moderately severe cognitive decline
(Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, and individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities. At this stage, those with Alzheimer’s may:
|Stage 6:||Severe cognitive decline
(Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
Memory continues to worsen, personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:
|Stage 7:||Very severe cognitive decline
(Severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases.At this stage, individuals need help with much of their daily personal care, including eating or using the toilet. They may also lose the ability to smile, to sit without support and to hold their heads up. Reflexes become abnormal. Muscles grow rigid. Swallowing impaired.
Help! What do I do?
– Don’t fight this battle alone. Sign up for one of the Alzheimer’s Association groups in your area to talk with other family members who are going through the same or similar circumstances.
– Talk with an In-Home Care provider like Total Care Connections to discuss how the possibly of bringing in a Memory Care Trained Caregiver can provide the much needed relief and rest for you and your family throughout the week.
No one can truly prepare to fight the battle of Alzheimer’s disease. But understanding it, finding support in others who can empathize, and having the help from a trusted memory care provider can be the help you desperately need and the support that carries you through.