If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to pay attention to their symptoms and to act if it seems like their cognitive function has worsened. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that progresses over time. That means seniors who have Alzheimer’s need a unique level of care as their cognitive decline increases.
Although everyone experiences Alzheimer’s differently, the disease is often split up into early, middle and late-stage Alzheimer’s. The further your loved one’s cognitive decline has progressed, the more care they’ll need.
The Importance of Each Stage of Alzheimer’s
Whether this is your first time working with a loved one with Alzheimer’s or if you have loved ones who have been diagnosed in the past, you should understand that no two seniors with Alzheimer’s will require the same level of care. They may be able to complete daily tasks on their own in the initial stages but will lose the ability to do simple tasks or take care of themselves as the condition progresses. Depending on which stage your loved one is in, they may either require a little bit of support or full-on care.
If you’ve taken on the role of a family caregiver for a loved one, paying attention to your loved one’s symptoms can help you determine when professional Alzheimer’s care may be necessary. Taking care of your loved one might not seem like a challenge now, but as their condition progresses and they experience greater cognitive decline, you may not be equipped to provide the support they need in their daily life. However, there are many options for seniors who have advanced Alzheimer’s, including memory care facilities and in-home care from agencies like Home Care Assistance of Greater Burlington.
Three Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Common symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Memory loss, including forgetting the names of people they’ve recently met, information they’ve recently learned, or remembering the right word or name.
- Difficulty with performing tasks in the workplace or social settings.
- Having trouble with planning or organizing.
- Misplacing valuables.
Seniors who have early-stage Alzheimer’s can usually function independently. At first, it may just seem like your loved one is having memory lapses, even though they’re perfectly capable of driving themselves or be part of social gatherings. However, this is often the stage where family members encourage seniors to go to the doctor and get a diagnosis. Getting a diagnosis early on can give you more time to seek out options for Alzheimer’s care. This is also the best time to put legal, financial and end-of-life plans into place because your loved one will still be able to make important decisions.
Common symptoms of middle-stage Alzheimer’s include:
- Not being able to remember important information about themselves like their address or telephone number.
- Forgetting personal events or history.
- Personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness or compulsive, repetitive behavior.
Feeling moody or withdrawn.
- An increased tendency to wander or become lost.
- Confusion about where they are or what day it is.
- Change in sleep patterns.
- Not being able to choose proper clothing for the season or the occasion.
- Trouble with controlling their bladder and bowels.
Middle-stage Alzheimer’s usually lasts the longest; your loved one can be in this stage for quite a few years. If your loved one is in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s, they may start needing help with daily activities, although they can remain mostly independent. You should work with your loved one to figure out which tasks they can complete on their own and which tasks require assistance. Even finding ways to simplify certain tasks can go a long way.
Many family caregivers look into options for respite care when their loved one is experiencing middle-stage Alzheimer’s. Respite care will allow you the opportunity to relax and take a break from caregiving responsibilities while a professional caregiver provides the support your loved one needs.
Common symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer’s include:
- Extreme memory loss, including forgetting recent experiences
- Not being aware of their current surroundings
- Trouble with walking, sitting and, eventually, swallowing
- Difficulty with communicating
- Unable to take care of their personal hygiene, which usually requires around-the-clock care
- Vulnerability to infections
In late-stage Alzheimer’s, your loved one’s cognitive decline has advanced to the point that they’ve lost the ability to respond to their environment, communicate or even move. Seniors who are experiencing late-stage Alzheimer’s often benefit from more extensive hands-on care, such as hospice care, in order to maintain good quality of life during their final days.
How Home Care Assistance Helps Seniors Who Are Living with Alzheimer’s
If you’re looking into local Alzheimer’s care options, Home Care Assistance of Greater Burlington can help. Our home care services can assist your loved one with daily tasks like making meals and making their bed. In addition, our personal care services can help your loved one take care of their personal hygiene, especially if their condition has advanced to the point that they can no longer care for themselves.
In addition, our caregivers can help your loved one manage behavioral changes and prevent them from wandering or getting lost. Our caregivers can also provide meaningful companionship and can accompany your loved one in social activities or if they prefer to spend time at home.
Our personalized, one-on-one approach to home care can help your loved one get the support they need when they need it so they can continue to enjoy the routines in their daily life. With Home Care Assistance of Greater Burlington, you can have peace of mind knowing your loved one is in good hands.