Most experts agree that there are three main stages of Alzheimer’s – early, middle, and late. If you have a loved one who has moved through one or more of these stages, you know that each stage has a different level of impact and requires a specialized level of care.
While it may be manageable to take care of a loved one in the early stage, it can become increasingly difficult to take care of a family member with late-stage Alzheimer’s without professional help.
Knowing the three stages of Alzheimer’s disease will help you plan accordingly, and be prepared as the disease progresses. Here’s a look at each stage in detail, and what type of care can support both you and your loved one at each stage.
Signs of Early Stage Alzheimer’s
During the early stage, your loved one may experience some memory lapses, difficulty with problem-solving and decision-making, coming up with the right word or name, misplacing objects, and other common memory-loss symptoms.
What makes it difficult to know if it’s Alzheimer’s is that almost everyone experiences some form of these symptoms as they age.
Some signs that it may be more than just normal aging, and something more serious include:
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion about time or place
- Unusual personality changes
- Difficulty with language
Caring for a Loved One with Early Stage Alzheimer’s
If you begin to notice that normal day-to-day tasks are starting to become a challenge for your loved one, you’ll want to contact a healthcare professional. While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, addressing it early can help manage symptoms of the disease and quality of life.
As far as care goes, the early stages of Alzheimer’s can often be accompanied by a feeling of loneliness or isolation as your loved one comes to terms with their diagnosis. Companion care can provide social support and attentive care during this period. It’s not as intensive as other types of care, so could be a good fit while the disease is still in its mild stage.
Signs of Middle Stage Alzheimer’s
The middle stage of Alzheimer’s is usually the longest stage for most people and will require more intensive care. It’s characterized by more severe memory loss, difficulty with communication, frustration with daily activities, and even changes in personality.
In the middle stage, your loved one may begin having trouble with:
- Communicating their needs
- Following conversations
- Remembering personal history
- Becoming withdrawn socially
- Sleep patterns
- Wandering and becoming lost
Caring for a Loved One with Middle Stage Alzheimer’s
A lot of people turn to in-home care when their loved one reaches the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Engaging with a care provider allows your family member to receive specialized, one-on-one care while remaining in the familiar environment of their home. In-home care is often preferred because it doesn’t introduce any drastic changes to their surroundings or environment.
Within the in-home care umbrella, there’s memory care which is a form of in-home care that’s specifically for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some of the services that come with memory care include a customized Memory Care Plan, stimulating activities to manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, social support, and whatever assistance your loved one needs with day-to-day activities.
Signs of Late Stage Alzheimer’s
Late-stage Alzheimer’s is the final stage of the disease and is characterized by a significant decline in cognitive ability. This is an extremely difficult stage for everyone involved, from the person affected by the disease to you as their loved one and family caregiver.
Some of the most common symptoms of late stage Alzheimer’s include:
- Difficulty recognizing loved ones
- Inability to understand speech and find the right words
- Difficulty walking, sitting, and swallowing
- Inability to perform personal care
Caring for a Loved One with Late Stage Alzheimer’s
Full-time personal care may be required to keep the individual safe and get them through daily personal activities like bathing, dressing, and toileting.
A professional caregiver can provide these services and work with your loved one’s healthcare provider to monitor symptoms and ensure everything is being done to keep them as comfortable as possible.
Talk to an In-Home Care Provider Today
It’s crucial to be aware of the different stages of Alzheimer’s early on so you can plan accordingly for your loved one and give them the best quality of life possible.
It’s likely that at some point along the way, in-home care will be a part of your journey. We would welcome the opportunity to be your partner and caring for your loved one.
To schedule a free consultation and create a customized care plan for your family member, contact Golden Care today.