Some Things I Learned About Alzheimer’s 11.28.14

10665743_536249823178684_5966441526197872668_nThanks for coming back! We’re now settled in our new blog home. Please consider “following” this blog by clicking on the “Follow” button on the right hand side of the page.

Two things I’d like to share today are information from the alz.org site.

  • 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
  • 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s.

autum branch with falling leaves divider
know the 10 signs
Could you spot the early signs of Alzheimer’s before the disease became severe? Often, Alzheimer’s symptoms are overlooked or misdiagnosed as other illnesses. Many times it is easily written off as being forgetful, or misdiagnosed as depression. The info graphic below (from dailyinfographic.com) lays out 10 early symptoms found in Alzheimer’s. While the disease will ultimately progress over time, early detection will delay the process. That means early diagnosis and early treatment will keep you or your loved ones with you that much longer.

There is also a comparison shown below between what is “typical” in an elderly person without Alzheimer’s compared to the actual Alzheimer’s warning signs.

alzheimers-640x2284

autum branch with falling leaves divider

7 stages

It became obvious to my sister and I that Mama had Alzheimer’s when she was around the 4th to 5th stage. We realized soon that she had been going through the first four stages for maybe a couple of years without us realizing it. After that it was a little over a year that she went from stage 4/5 to stage 7.

Below are three different ways to learn about the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s. First is a written explanation, second is a link to an Interactive tour of the brain showing the progression, and third is a graceful, poignant dance representation of the stages. I recommend watching all three. This is important information and it will stick with you better if you do.

Not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate. This seven-stage framework is based on a system developed by Barry Reisberg, M.D., clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center.

curley dividersAlzheimer’s symptoms vary. The stages below provide a general idea of how abilities change during the course of the disease.

Stage 1: No impairment
Stage 2: Very mild decline
Stage 3: Mild decline
Stage 4: Moderate decline
Stage 5: Moderately severe decline
Stage 6: Severe decline
Stage 7: Very severe decline

STAGE 1: No impairment (normal function)
The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia.

STAGE 2: Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease)
The person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses — forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. But no symptoms of dementia can be detected during a medical examination or by friends, family or co-workers.

STAGE 3: Mild cognitive decline (early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms)
Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview,doctorsmay be able to detect problems in memory or concentration. Common stage 3 difficulties include:

  • Noticeable problems coming up with the right word or name
  • Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people
  • Having noticeably greater difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings
  • Forgetting material that one has just read
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object
  • Increasing trouble with planning or organizing

STAGE 4: Moderate cognitive decline (Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
At this point,acarefulmedicalinterviewshould be able to detect clear-cut symptoms in several areas:

  • Forgetfulness of recent events
  • Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic — for example, counting backward from 100 by 7s
  • Greater difficulty performing complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, paying bills or managing finances
  • Forgetfulness about one’s own personal history
  • Becoming moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations

STAGE 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline (Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable,and individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities. At this stage, those with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Be unable to recall their own address or telephone number or the high school or college from which they graduated
  • Become confused about where they are or what day it is
  • Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic; such as counting backward from 40 by subtracting 4s or from 20 by 2s
  • Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
  • Still remember significant details about themselves and their family
  • Still require no assistance with eating or using the toilet

STAGE 6: Severe cognitive decline (Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
Memory continues to worsen, personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:

  • Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings
  • Remember their own name but have difficulty with their personal history
  • Distinguish familiar and unfamiliar faces but have trouble remembering the name of a spouse or caregiver
  • Need help dressing properly and may, without supervision, make mistakes such as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on the wrong feet
  • Experience major changes in sleep patterns — sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night
  • Need help handling details of toileting (for example, flushing the toilet, wiping or disposing of tissue properly)
  • Have increasingly frequent trouble controlling their bladder or bowels
  • Experience major personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions (such as believing that their caregiver is an impostor)or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding
  • Tend to wander or become lost

STAGE 7: Very severe cognitive decline (Severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases.

At this stage, individuals need help with much of their daily personal care, including eating or using the toilet. They may also lose the ability to smile, to sit without support and to hold their heads up. Reflexes become abnormal. Muscles grow rigid. Swallowing impaired.curley dividersTo learn more about the brain and specifically how Alzheimer’s changes it, CLICK HERE to go to Alz.org. If you find the brain steps 1-7 to be uninteresting, skip to step 8 where they start with the Alzheimer’s brain.

curley dividersSome of us learn things in different ways than others. I do better sometimes when I visually learn from seeing in action, rather than reading. I found this video which uses dance as a unique way of explaining the various stages.

As the three girls dance, the narrator explains the different stages of Alzheimer’s. Then, the purple dancer’s movements slowly begins to differ from the others, correlating to the mental and physical changes that mark each stage of the disease. Take a look.

A DANCE THROUGH TIME

dance you tube 7 stages autum branch with falling leaves divider

Please come back next time when I’ll share how Alzheimer’s drastically changes vision and about making a dementia friendly home. If you want to get an email whenever I post a blog (I write about other things, not just Alzheimer’s) find the “FOLLOW” box which is usually to the right hand side somewhere, enter your email and respond when the confirmation email is sent to you.

If you are in need of prayer for yourself, in your role as a caregiver, or if you have any specific questions please send me a comment with whatever information you want to share or ask about. I’ll say again that I’m not expert but I probably experienced with my mom a lot of things you’re going through and will try my best to help. If I don’t know the answer I will tell you I don’t know. I’ll never judge, I’ve been judged enough to last a life time and would never do that to someone else. My email address is rosalyn@selu.edu if that is an easier way to communicate.

autum branch with falling leaves divider

Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done”.

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