Stage 6: Repetitive hand-wringing.
• What Are The Stages Of Alzheimer's?
||What Are The Stages Of Alzheimer's?
The following is an outline of the 7 stages of Alzheimer's devised by the clinical director at the New York University School of Medicine's Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center. Not all patients will experience the same symptoms or rate of progression; however it does give you an indication of what to expect.
The person experiences no symptoms of Alzheimer's. An interview with a doctor does not indicate any sign of dementia.
Person may have trouble finding the right word, take longer to react, experience short term memory lapses (forgetting the location of everyday objects). May also have difficulties doing mathematical calculations. She may or may not be aware she has a problem handling these routine tasks. Family members or co-workers are unlikely to notice any difference. If they do, they may try to cover up the problems by putting them down to stress, overwork or just a natural sign of aging. No symptoms of dementia can be found during a routine medical examination.
As the disease progresses, others will start to notice changes in the person. She will frequently seem emotionally cold or lethargic. She may struggle coming up with the right name for an object, calling a wrist watch a hand watch for example or 'that thing, what do you call it'. She may have problems remembering names of new people she is introduced to; forget material she has just read; misplace or lose a valuable object and have greater difficulty in planning or organizing anything. A doctor may be able to detect memory or concentration problems during an interview.
At this point a medical interview should reveal clear-cut symptoms in the following areas:
At this stage people begin to need help with every-day activities. They may:
Memory continues to worsen and the person increasingly needs help with everyday activities. At this stage they may:
In the final stage of the disease the patient requires 24 hour care. She is apathetic and unaware of her environment. She is not aware of her state of cleanliness or dress. She is unable to communicate with words and cannot control her bowel or bladder function. She has little memory, short-term or long-term. Many lose the ability to smile or hold their head up without support. The muscles grow rigid and swallowing is impaired. Eventually many patients end up lying in the fetal position shutting down their entire body and mind. It is only at this point that some families, emotionally and physically exhausted, resign themselves to putting their loved one into a nursing home. Most experience deep grief at having to do this. The final stage can last from several weeks to several years. Another option at this stage is hospice care. These facilities provide dignity by offering comfort and care to people with terminal illnesses. To qualify under Medicare, a doctor must diagnose a person with Alzheimer's as having less than 6 months to live. Ideally, end-of-life care wishes should be discussed with a person with dementia while they still have the capacity to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment.
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For more advice, see the following:
• Causes of Alzheimer's: Does it run in families?
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