Identifying the Stages of Alzheimer's

By Riley Hendersen

Most people, until a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, don't know that there are multiple stages of the disease, seven as a matter of fact. Such stages are by no means absolute, but give health care providers some basic guidelines as to the myriad of conditions that those diagnosed with the disease generally experience as the disease progresses. In addition, identifying the stages of Alzheimer's helps family members and friends in anticipating what changes to expect and how to prepare as the disease wreaks havoc. Knowing what to expect, in some cases, helps to make the disease easier to deal with due to the ability to plan ahead and also to know when it may be impractical, or unsafe, to continue to care for your loved one at home.

The first three stages of Alzheimer's appear to be the mere results of ordinary aging in many people. Stage One usually designates normal functions in most people, while Stage Two clues will indicate a slight decline in cognitive abilities. Many of these are accepted as part of growing older such as forgetting where you've placed the car keys or your eyeglasses. Haven't we all done that? Does that mean we have Alzheimer's? No. But if these signs worsen over time, it may be more than mere forgetfulness. Stage Three is reached when problems with memory and concentration occur on a frequent basis. Clues such as inability to retain information recently accessed or a decreased ability to remember names are some of the early warning signs. So is an increased inability to concentrate at work or while socializing with friends.

The next few stages of Alzheimer's progress in a series exhibited by various conditions. Stage Four, more commonly known as Early-Onset Alzheimer's, is diagnosed when the person is unable to recall recent events or occasions, as well as a decreased ability to perform simple arithmetic tasks. An increase in errors to banking statements, or bill payments is obvious. Forgetting events in one's own past is also a clue that things are not right. Due to these factors, some people suffering from early symptoms might withdraw from family and friends, embarrassed and frightened at these sudden changes. Stage Five is diagnosed as moderately severe cognitive levels cause both physical and emotional changes in a person. More significant gaps in memory and reasoning skills decrease and cause difficulties with daily living habits. This stage is a point in which people forget where they live or their address and phone number and become easily confused.

The last two stages of Alzheimer's progress to involve the necessity of having someone help the person suffering from Alzheimer's with cooking, cleaning and dressing tasks. Stage Six of the disease may present itself as an increased inability to recall recent experiences and events and to some extent, even personal history. An erratic sleep cycle and the need for help in basic toileting tasks become necessary as well. At this stage, many people suffering from Alzheimer's become incontinent and can exhibit a drastic change in personality. Stage Seven, diagnosed as very severe cognitive decline, is the final stage of the dehabilitating disease where people lose their ability to communicate or react to their own environment. Physical conditions such as the inability to walk or sit without support advance to the point that the person becomes bedridden.

Dealing with any of the stages of Alzheimer's is an ordeal for everyone involved in the process and support is necessary for anyone caring for someone diagnosed with the disease.

For more information on Alzheimers, try visiting http://www.helpwithalzheimers.com - a website that specializes in providing Alzheimers related tips, advice and resources to include information on stages of Alzheimers.

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