What are the different stages of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness, which generally has three stages: early, middle and late. That being said, it’s important to know that Alzheimer’s disease affects people in lots of different ways and at different rates. Because of this, individuals may progress through the stages differently to others.
The Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
A progressive illness gets worse over time. However, with Alzheimer’s, there is no definite timeline as to how quickly or slowly the disease will progress. The purpose behind the stages of Alzheimer’s (mild, moderate and severe or early middle and late) is to provide an overarching look at how the disease might progress and the type of symptoms associated with each stage.
The below stages are meant as a guide to support you in better understanding the progress of Alzheimer’s. However, there are no hard and fast rules about where a person may fall in these stages, and it’s quite possible that some will overlap. Therefore, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice that is relevant to you or your loved one.
Mild Alzheimer’s (Early Stage)
In the first stages of Alzheimer’s a person is likely to be functioning independently. However, they may notice difficulties with:
- Finding the right words/name to describe something
- Remembering names
- Performing tasks at work or in social settings
- Losing things
- Planning or organising things
- Recalling something they read recently
In some cases, an individual may not notice these things themselves. Instead, family members or friends might pick up on certain behaviours or issues that ring alarm bells.
Moderate Alzheimer’s (Middle Stage)
This stage can last for many years, depending on how quickly the disease progresses. In the middle stage, the symptoms listed above can be more pronounced. You may also notice a change in the individual’s behaviour.
Symptoms of middle-stage Alzheimer’s can include:
- Forgetting things from their own past (recent or otherwise)
- Changes to mood (i.e. becoming withdrawn or depressed)
- Confusion about where they are or which day it is
- Dressing inappropriately (for example, wearing shorts in winter or incorrect layering of clothing)
- Toileting problems
- Changes to sleep patterns such as insomnia or sleeping more in the say
- Personality and behavioural changes
In this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will still be able to go about their normal day to day life – however, they might need some assistance. During this stage, it is recommended that steps are taken to preserve and promote independence where possible. This may mean thinking of ways to simplify tasks or providing cues to support in the completion of their routine, such as getting dressed or washing.
As this middle stage progresses, carers of individuals with Alzheimer’s may feel like they need extra support. This can come in many forms. For example, respite care or day care allows carers to take a break safe in the knowledge that their loved one is being well looked after in a safe environment.
Severe Alzheimer’s (Late Stage)
In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals may experience severe symptoms and require intensive support in the majority of their daily activities. Communication, in particular, may become difficult in this stage, and memory and cognitive skills will continue to decline.
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of awareness relating to recent experience
- Communication difficulties (especially surrounding immediate needs and pain)
- Vulnerability to infections, such as pneumonia
While communication may become a struggle in the late stages of Alzheimer, engagement from other people is still very important. This can be as simple as a gentle touch or listening to music. Caring for a person in the late stages of Alzheimer’s can be very hard on carers, particularly loved ones of the individual concerned. Therefore, seeking help wherever possible is really important.
Specialist Dementia Care
Here at Lovett Care, we offer specialist dementia care to individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We understand that the strain dementia can put on carers is immense and more often than not, support is required for the benefit of both the carer and the individual living with dementia.
To find out more about specialist dementia care across our care homes in Cheshire, Staffordshire and the North West, contact us today.