Understanding the Three Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of brain disorder that degrades memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms typically develop slowly and progress until patients become incapable of taking care of themselves. Did you know that, while there is no known cure, understanding the three stages of the disease can help slow its detrimental impacts and improve quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s as well as their loved ones?
The first phase of the disease is known as early-stage Alzheimer’s. This is a period when people with a positive diagnosis can still function somewhat normally. Working, attending social engagements, and even driving can be relatively safe. Family members and caregivers should pay close attention to declining abilities and the need for support. As the disease progresses, new limitations can arise and confronting them may result in strong emotions.
The middle-stage of Alzheimer’s is often the longest phase of the disease. It can last for many years, but a greater level of care may be required and caregivers themselves may need support as a loved one’s needs become ever more demanding. In this stage, an impacted senior may begin jumbling his or her words, have trouble expressing thoughts and emotions, struggle with simple tasks like getting dressed, and exhibit unpredictable behavior.
Remember, Alzheimer’s patients are not trying to be unruly. They are suffering from a degenerative brain disorder. Patience and flexibility can be important when caring for them, as can coping skills, and strategies for care. For example, using a calm voice to answer unnecessarily repeated questions can help maintain a sense of safety. Many times, Alzheimer’s patients are just looking for reassurance amid their unwanted confusion. Try to compassionately respond to the needs expressed underneath their words.
Late-stage Alzheimer’s is when the disease has progressed to require around-the-clock personal care. Late-stage Alzheimer’s can be life-threatening, as severe brain deterioration may inhibit the ability to walk, sit, and even swallow food and water. There is little that loved ones can do during this period except for making sure the elder loved one is comfortable. Perhaps playing his or her favorite music, rubbing lotion on his or her hands, or sitting next to him or her can provide mutual relief.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and support resources are available for seniors living with Alzheimer’s Disease and their family caregivers who suffer alongside them. There are often complex legal issues that arise when a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Our law office is here to support you through providing information and legal counsel. If you or someone you know would like more information or guidance about legal matters relating to Alzheimer’s, contact elder law attorney Paul Riffel today.