Apr 25, 2017 by Glenn Savage
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive form of dementia that leads long and short-term memory loss, impaired cognition, changes in personality, loss of communication ability, and, eventually, a complete loss of control over one's own body.
Because Alzheimer's disease erodes the brain at different rates and does not always attack the same parts of the brain in the same order, no two people will experience the exact same effects of Alzheimer's or have the disease impact them in the same way. That said, the disease does follow a standard progression of generalized symptoms that can be tracked and monitored. While there are many different scales used to mark progression, the two most widely used are the three-stage and seven-stage scales. In the seven-stage progression, developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University, a senior goes through
2.Very Mild Decline
5.Moderately Severe Decline
7.Very Severe Decline
These seven stages are often shortened to 3 stages: Mild, Moderate, and Severe, with both progression scales starting with a stage of no impairment.
During mild impairment (Reisberg's stages 1-3), a senior will notice that they have trouble remembering faces and names. They may not be able to find the right word for a sentence, or they may start to misplace items.
Most times, Alzheimer's disease is not diagnosed in the mild impairment stage so there is not a lot of Alzheimer's care that is required or that takes place. For those seniors who are diagnosed early, Alzheimer's care will focus on preparation for the future, getting medical and legal documents in order, and freeing up time for the senior to spend as much quality time with friends and loved ones as they can while they are still at their best.
Moderate Impairment (Reisberg's stages 3-5) bring about more serious problems. Seniors start to forget personal details and have significant short-term memory loss. Tasks involving numbers or arithmetic often become overwhelming, and even daily living tasks, such as bathing or dressing, can be difficult. At this stage, Alzheimer's care includes supports for many daily living tasks, running errands, transportation, and meal preparation. Seniors can still take care of most of their own personal care needs, but they may require assistance.
With severe impairment (Reisberg's stages 6, 7), seniors become confused and anxious. They lose touch with time, space, and reality. A senior's personality may change drastically, and communication ability is lost. By the end of this stage, a senior will not be able to control their own body. Alzheimer's care generally focuses on comfort, dignity, and safety.
Comfort Keepers caregivers are specially trained to provide care to seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's disease through each of the stages. After all, there might not currently be a cure for Alzheimer's, but there are services and supports that can make a difference in the lives of the senior and their family.
To learn more about our Alzheimer's care, contact us today.