Care Team of Wichita Falls, TX


Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease: Part 1B – Stages of the Disease

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Part 1B: The Stages of the Disease

This is a short series of information CareTeam would like to present about Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  Over the course of this series, we want to help people who are caring for loved ones with the disease be better able to cope with the effects, and ultimately to become a better caregiver for their loved one so that the family can be whole again.

Understanding AD.  Sometimes you may feel that you don’t know how to care for the person with AD.  You’re not alone!  This is a common feeling among AD caregivers because each day may bring different challenges.  Learning about AD can help you understand and cope with these challenges.

Since it’s “discovery” in 1906 by German psychologist Dr. Alois Alzheimer, the disease has seen rapid developments in its understanding and treatment. The first drug approved by the FDA was not released until the 1990’s.  In the 2000’s, new drugs arrived on the market.  We are even in the process of developing an AD vaccine with hopes that there will one day be an end to the disease!

Alzheimer’s Disease consists of three main stages:  mild, moderate, and severe.  Understanding these stages can help you plan ahead.

Stage I: Mild.  In mild AD people often have some memory loss and small changes in their personality.  They may have trouble remembering recent events or the names of familiar people or things.  They may no longer be able to solve simple math problems or balance a checkbook.  They may also lose the ability to plan and organize – such as having trouble making a grocery list and finding items in the store.

Stage 2: Moderate.  Memory loss and confusion become more obvious.  People have more trouble organizing, planning, and following instructions.  They may need help getting dressed and may start having problems with incontinence.  They may not know where they are or what day or year it is. During Stage 2 AD is often when people begin to become restless and may wander.  Personality changes may become more serious, with incidences of kicking, cursing, screaming, hiding things, and stealing.  Most people experiencing Stage 2 of AD require full attention of the caregiver during all hours of the day.  It is usually not safe for these individuals to be home alone for more than an hour or two at a time.

Stage 3: Severe.  This is the last stage of AD.  Severe AD is sometimes called late-stage AD.  In this stage, people often need help with all their daily needs.  They may not be able to walk or sit up without help.  They may not be able to talk and often cannot recognize family members.  They may have trouble swallowing and refuse to eat.  Stage 3 individuals need full attention at all times, day and night. Sadly, Alzheimer’s Disease is a very cruel disease, and will ultimately take the life of the person fighting it.  But there is hope.  There are many treatments and therapies that may slow the symptoms of the disease.  And more importantly, there are many organizations of people who can offer help and support for families fighting the disease.

Learn More About AD.  We will continue in the series to provide information on how to care for a person with AD.  In the mean time, here are some ways to help you learn more about Alzheimer’s Diease:  (1) Talk with your doctor about AD.  Ask for a refer to someone who specializes in the disease.  (2) Ask your doctor about good sources of information.  (3)  Contact the local North Texas Chapter Alzheimer’s Association at (940) 767-8800.  (4) Go to educational programs and workshops on AD.  (5) Try to find a good support group for caregivers.  There are some open in Wichita Falls.  The Alzheimer’s Association can help you locate a group.

When you can’t go it alone anymore, you may need some extra help from professionals who are trained in caring for AD patients.  CareTeam has a group of specially-trained staff who are experienced in this area and can provide the care needed to help your loved one and give you some time to reenergize if you have been the primary caregiver for a loved one with AD.  Many schedules are available and we will work to fit your budget.  Call CareTeam at (940) 723-5273.