What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Updated: Mar 28, 2019
The phases of Alzheimer’s are typically grouped into three main stages: mild (early), moderate (middle) and severe (late).
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms will gradually change and become more severe. While these changes affect everyone in different ways and at different paces, it does follow patterns that enable caregivers to understand the level of cognitive impairment and plan accordingly for the additional care that will be needed as the disease progresses and functioning level lessens. The phases of Alzheimer’s are typically grouped into three main stages: mild (early), moderate (middle) and severe (late). Symptoms of early stage Alzheimer’s include: repeating questions and comments without realizing it, often within the same conversation, misplacing objects or storing them in an unusual spot and avoiding regular activities that have become more difficult in order to minimize embarrassment and frustration. The decision to place a loved one with early stage Alzheimer’s in an assisted living community is usually made by family members when there is concern for the loved one’s safety and health and an in-home caregiver is not sufficient. Characteristics of an individual moving from early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s can include an increase in the “bad” days when the resident’s cognitive impairment is more pronounced and needs help with more activities of daily living such as toileting and grooming, has mood changes and is increasingly disoriented. Individuals moving from moderate to severe Alzheimer’s may exhibit such symptoms as difficulty or complete inability to recognize familiar people (including close family members and even self), sleeping a lot and loss of motor skills and sense of touch, and their cognitive abilities may be severely impaired. Residents with these symptoms need 24/7 care as they become completely dependent on others and safety and fall-prevention measures must be taken to accommodate their decline in mobility. It should be noted that even with these symptoms, a resident at this stage can still feel personal touch and loving attention. The caregiver team should work together to assess each resident’s level of functioning and develop a care plan with family member assistance to ensure the needs of the resident are met.