Stages of Alzheimer's
Understanding the different stages of Alzheimer's and how this affects Cognition
The first stage, mild Alzheimer's disease, is characterized by some memory loss, especially memory of more recent events. A person in the early stages of Alzheimer's will likely be able to carry out the daily activities of living, but may begin to forget familiar words and names when speaking, and have trouble finding things. Judgment and attention span will become impaired. Many of the activities that a person enjoyed earlier in life can still be enjoyed in the early stage.
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Aids such as photo phones or automatic pill dispensers can help maintain independence.
Concentrate on activities that stimulate memory:
Reminiscence (photo albums, music, conversation)
The symptoms of moderate Alzheimer's disease are in large part an increase in the severity of the symptoms of the first stage. Professional and social functioning continue to deteriorate because of increasing problems with memory, logic, speech, and initiative. The frustration resulting from these diminishing capacities will likely exacerbate the behavioral symptoms often associated with Alzheimer's disease.
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Sleep disorders, including disruptions in the sleep/wake cycle and sundowning begin to become a problem (Light therapy and aromatherapy can be useful tools to treat sleep disorders.)
Inappropriate judgment becomes a bigger concern and can become a real safety issue.
Hygiene might be neglected
Incontinence should be watched for.
There will likely be a loss in initiative - the affected person will not think to start anything or to do anything. The caregiver's role must become more proactive at this point, helping the care-receiver start and continue with an activity.
Severe Alzheimer's disease is characterized by almost total memory loss. The person in this last stage of Alzheimer's usually needs help with all of the basic activities of daily living. She will lose the ability to walk unassisted, and eventually even to sit up by herself. The body eventually forgets how to carry out normal biological functions.
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Activities for late stage Alzheimer's disease include music, especially familiar songs from the persons past, and those which provide sensory stimulation. Often, someone who has trouble putting a sentence together may sing a familiar song perfectly, start to finish.
Focus also on sensory stimulation, particularly tactile stimulation. The Twiddle Muffs and our collection of aromatherapy animals are perfect to provide this tactile stimulation.
Watch for communication cues when verbal communication declines. A smile or other body language can indicate that the music you are playing is bringing pleasure to your loved one. Conversely, what has often been called "negative behavior" is also usually a communication. Yelling or other loud verbalizations, slapping, or some other outburst that we might at first interpret as aggression is very often a way of telling you, "I'm in pain!"