Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease currently affecting more than 5 million Americans. While every patient is different, Alzheimer’s patients generally follow the same phases as their disease progresses, although the rate of progression can vary widely depending on the individual.
This disease is generally classified in one of two ways: using a three-phase model or the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s as developed by Barry Reisberg. Both models are used by medical professionals to aid in diagnosis and the creation of treatment plans, but today we’re going to talk about the three-phase model which includes mild, moderate, and severe cases.
Early-Stage Alzheimer’s (mild)
In this phase, a person may still be able to function mostly on their own. Patients often feel as if they are having trouble remembering things, and may struggle to find the right word in conversation. Short term memory is also impacted, making it difficult to remember names when being introduced to new people or details about a story that was just told.
Many of these symptoms are common even when a person is not exhibiting the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, so it’s important to keep in mind that it’s more about an ongoing pattern than an isolated incident. Family and close friends are usually able to see a pattern over a long period of time and doctors can identify early symptoms using various tools.
Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s (moderate)
Moderate stage Alzheimer’s is typically the longest phase and can last for several years. In this phase, you may notice that the person with Alzheimer’s begins to forget important moments in their own life and requires assistance to complete daily tasks like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, eating, or bathing. Patients may also become irritable and tend to wander and get lost.
People in middle-stage Alzheimer’s often need support in their daily lives but are still able to participate in many normal activities. Depending on the needs of your loved one you may want to consider hiring an outside caregiver to assist with day-to-day care.
Late-Stage Alzheimer’s (severe)
In the final stage of Alzheimer’s, there are severe symptoms of dementia present in the patient. Typically, people in this phase require around the clock care and are unable to interact with their environment. Loved ones and caregivers may benefit from the assistance of a full-time caregiver or hospice care to provide support.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, seek the advice of a medical professional. While getting this diagnosis may be scary, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan in order to ensure your loved one’s safety and care.