It’s often difficult to watch your loved one suffer from the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, early detection can help ensure timely medical intervention and improve the quality of life for the person with Alzheimer’s and their family members. 

Since Alzheimer’s currently affects more than 6 million Americans of all age brackets, it’s crucial to know the signs of this illness so you can find caregiver resources and treatment options as soon as your loved one begins to exhibit symptoms. What are the seven stages of Alzheimer’s, and which behaviors should you look out for? Consider this your roadmap:

What Are the Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative illness, which means its effect on nerve cells in the brain will gradually worsen over time. This can lead to many cognitive impairments, from memory loss to the eventual lack of speech and motor control. Below are the seven stages of Alzheimer’s to know, noting that this disease’s progression can vary from person to person (making it essential to consult a memory care doctor):

Pre-Clinical Stage

At this point, your parent or loved one likely will not show noticeable symptoms on the outside. However, brain changes, such as accumulating abnormal proteins like beta-amyloid, will occur. Over time, too much build-up of this compound will cause plaque in the brain cells, which leads to cognitive and nervous system impairments.

Subjective Memory Loss

A person at this stage will exhibit minor memory lapses. For instance, they may not remember names, misplace items, or take longer than usual to find the right words. However, these symptoms might not immediately be recognized as Alzheimer’s.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

This is where the symptoms of cognitive decline become more evident. Your loved one might have trouble performing routine tasks or remembering information that used to be part of daily life. Still, these symptoms will not yet interfere with basic functioning.

Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

Your loved one will likely have a formal Alzheimer’s diagnosis at this stage. They’ll have difficulty with tasks such as handling finances, following routines, or recalling recent events. They might also start to lose communication skills and get lost in familiar places.

Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

As the disease progresses, your loved one will require hands-on assistance with basic activities. As their memory loss worsens, they might not remember details about their life or current events. Behavioral or personality changes will often start to manifest as well. They might feel anxiety, depression, anger, fear, disorientation, or irritability.  

Moderately Severe Alzheimer’s Disease

At this point, you will need to help your loved one with most tasks, including personal care and hygiene. It’s also common for someone at this stage to need clarification about their surroundings and to not recognize the faces of their family members or close friends. 

Severe Alzheimer’s Disease

The final stage of Alzheimer’s is marked by an intense decline in both cognitive function and physical abilities. Your loved one might become immobile and unable to verbally communicate, requiring around-the-clock care. Memory care centers can help make your loved one feel as comfortable and secure as possible at this late progression in the disease.

Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s to Look For

If you think your loved one may have Alzheimer’s, there are a few early symptoms to help you detect it. The earlier you can get care, the more a memory professional can help:

Frequent or Abnormal Memory Lapse

Occasional memory lapses are common with age, but you might have cause for concern when they’re frequent. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one might not remember dates, appointments, or conversations, or they might ask the same questions repeatedly. Notice if their forgetful behavior becomes habitual or interferes with daily routines.

Lack of Planning or Problem-Solving

Alzheimer’s can affect a person’s ability to find solutions, make decisions, or think logically. If your loved one cannot seem to follow instructions (like a recipe they used to have memorized) or perform tasks that require mental acuity (like managing their finances), this could be a sign of Alzheimer’s. So, without violating their autonomy, you should step in.

Disorientation and Confusion

One of the most telling symptoms of Alzheimer’s is disorientation. If your loved one gets lost in familiar locations, cannot follow chronological events and the passage of time, or has trouble remembering faces, these are widespread indicators of the illness.

Verbal Communication Challenges

As this disease continues to progress, communication will deteriorate. But even in the earliest stages, your loved one might have some difficulty with speech. If they often repeat themselves, can’t find the right words, or socially withdraw from conversations, note these verbal cues. They might point to a more severe issue, such as Alzheimer’s.    

Changes in Mood State or Personality

If your loved one starts to behave in uncharacteristic ways, these changes could warrant some further investigation. Pay attention to erratic mood swings, apparent personality shifts, or apathy toward certain activities your loved one used to enjoy. It’s not uncommon for Alzheimer’s to cause anxiety, depression, and other adverse mental health outcomes. 

Difficulty Accomplishing Routine Tasks

Alzheimer’s impacts the area of the brain that controls motor function, so if your loved one starts to fumble with basic tasks they’ve performed their whole lives, it’s a major red flag. This illness makes dressing, cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene more difficult. It can be frustrating for your loved one as it often signals a loss of independence. However, they might need your assistance to find empowering and accessible adaptations.

Early Alzheimer’s Detection Can Lead to Optimal Care

To seek out the proper medical interventions, emotional support, and practical resources, early Alzheimer’s detection is crucial. Once you know the seven signs of Alzheimer’s and how to recognize various symptoms, the next step is to find a memory care provider. 

Here at Vineyard Senior Living, we are committed to offering exemplary healthcare in a safe, comfortable setting with personalized amenities. Please get in touch with us for more information on how we can support your loved one through their Alzheimer’s journey.