Over 4.5 million people in the United States and 26 million worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. The disease destroys brain cells and symptoms can include confusion, anger, mood swings, language breakdown and long-term memory loss. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease involves specialized services that differ from other types of senior housing. When making a decision, on where to place your loved one, it is important to ask if there is specialized care offered for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
Doctors generally describe Alzheimer’s disease in three stages – mild, moderate and severe.
You might have heard these stages referred to as early, mid and late stage. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates 5.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s, and 72 percent of these patients are at the moderate to severe stage of the disease.
While there is no clear indication of when someone moves from stage to stage of Alzheimer’s disease, there are some general guidelines doctors use. These help caregivers understand what they may expect as the disease worsens.
- During the mild (or early) stage of Alzheimer’s, people may begin having trouble with memory and thinking
- During the moderate (or mid) stage of Alzheimer’s, people may become more confused and forgetful and begin to need help with routine daily activities and self-care
- During the severe (or late) stage of Alzheimer’s, people may lose the ability to speak coherently and experience a decline in physical abilities
The doctor may assess which stage your loved one is in.
Through research, more is being learned about how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. While doctors and scientists do not yet know how to prevent or cure the disease, medications are available that may help treat the symptoms.
Even though most dementia cases come from irreversible causes, there is still so much dementia care that families can do to help their loved ones continue to function as well as possible for as long as possible. Creating a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment for someone with dementia can feel like a daunting and even overwhelming task for the caregiver, but fortunately there are now some accepted standards of dementia care that can help guide families to care for their loved one.
We all forget things as we get older. Mild memory loss is common in older adults and as long as it doesn’t affect their daily lives, isn’t usually a problem. But memory loss that gets worse and affects daily life may be a sign of dementia. Dementia can cause problems with memory and how well a person is able to think and plan. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Usually dementia gets worse over time. How long this takes is different for each person. Some people stay the same for years. Others lose skills quickly. Follow the links below to find WebMD’s comprehensive coverage about dementia, what it looks like, how to treat it, and much more.