While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, being able to recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and its stages can help the patient and family caregiver better understand what to expect and when to expect it. This knowledge will also give them the time to plan and prepare for what is to come.
Common Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
A common problem patients experience in the early stages of Alzheimer’s is a feeling that they can’t remember simple things. This can include forgetting the location of items they use on a daily basis as well as forgetting common words. Often these will be written off as part of getting older, but if these symptoms worsen, the patient needs to be seen by a doctor.
Another early sign of Alzheimer’s is having difficulty when performing tasks either at work or in a social setting. This can also include forgetting what they just read. Often, individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s will be embarrassed that they seem to be having trouble with simple activities or names, so they will become defensive or hide the fact that they can’t remember.
Finally, planning or organizing can become difficult in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If your loved one is someone that has always been efficient in these areas, and is now having issues, this should be looked into by a physician.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are seven stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. During the first few stages, symptoms may not be noticed or recognized, and it may be impossible to be detected by medical tests. By the time the patient reaches stage four, a medical review should be able to clearly detect Alzheimer’s symptoms. The seven stages include the following:
- Stage One – No signs or symptoms are shown at this time. A medical exam will not indicate Alzheimer’s.
- Stage Two – The patient may begin to notice mild memory lapses that include forgetting words and locations of items such as car keys.
- Stage Three – At this stage, Alzheimer’s can be detected by a medical exam in some patients. Symptoms include noticeable trouble when attempting to come up with the right name or word.
- Stage Four – By stage four, a medical exam will be able to detect the disease. Symptoms can include forgetting recent events as well as difficulty in carrying out complex tasks such as paying bills.
- Stage Five – At this stage, the patient will begin to need help with daily activities. As noted by the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, memory loss will be quite noticeable and they will have difficulty in knowing the day of the week or their telephone number. They may also not know where they are.
Gaining a greater knowledge of the progression of this disease can help you and your family plan for the type of care that may be needed to ensure your loved one is provided for. Additionally, although knowing what may come can be painful, it gives you and your family the option of preparing emotionally for the stages of Alzheimer’s.
Have you had a loved one who experienced these stages of Alzheimer’s? Did he or she show any of these symptoms, or any signs not listed here? Please share your experience in the comments!