No one wants to think of the possibility of themselves or their loved ones having Alzheimer’s. But unfortunately, it happens. All we can do is be prepared and know what to expect.
There is no cure for it, but there are care options for people ravaged by this disease. The key is finding a memory care home that is passionate about people and provides a patient-first approach to its care.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s isn’t a disease that comes on quickly or makes someone look sick. It starts long before any symptoms show. As the disease progresses over several years, it eventually touches most parts of the brain.
The rate at which Alzheimer’s affects people varies widely from person to person. However, the average lifespan after being diagnosed is around 8 years. But some people continue to live for up to 20 years.
Progression of Alzheimer’s
There are five stages to Alzheimer’s. However, the stages are only generalizations because of how different people are affected by the disease. The disease may progress quicker in some people, and in others, it might be more severe.
At this point, Alzheimer’s will not present with any symptoms. The disease is really only diagnosed in a research setting in these early stages. Imaging technology and knowledge of Alzheimer’s have increased over the years. These advances are important steps toward potential treatment options in the future.
In its preclinical form, Alzheimer’s may last for many years. The individual will have no idea what is happening in their brain.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
As the disease progresses, the individual will begin to experience MCI. These won’t be major changes that affect the person’s life or relationships. But at this point, noticeable differences will start to manifest.
For example, the person may begin to forget things they normally wouldn’t or misjudge the necessary steps to complete an everyday task.
It’s worth noting that just because someone is suffering from MCI doesn’t mean they automatically have Alzheimer’s. Some MCI is a natural part of aging.
The next step is the beginning of dementia. This is the point that a doctor will typically diagnose Alzheimer’s. At this point, there will be noticeable symptoms to family members and the person’s doctor.
Several things that typically occur in this stage:
- Forgetting things that happened recently and other short-term memory lapses
- Personality changes like lack of motivation, unusual anger, or irritation
- Difficulty expressing themselves
- Difficulty solving problems or completing tasks they usually had no trouble with
In the moderate dementia stage, the person will likely begin needing help with their day-to-day life and caring for themself. Depending on the individual and their support system, they may need new living accommodations.
At this point, all the symptoms of mild dementia will begin to worsen with the added sign of needing help with their daily lives.
At this stage of Alzheimer’s progression, the disease dramatically affects a person’s life. In addition to their cognitive decline, their movement and physical abilities are also affected.
Some of the signs of severe dementia are:
- Inability to communicate properly—although there may be times where this isn’t the case
- Assistance for everything needed constantly
- Diminishing physical abilities like trouble walking or holding head up
What’s Next After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?
Typically Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in the mild dementia stage. The good news is that there isn’t a whole lot that needs to change at this point. Of course, life begins to look different, but the changes are typically minimal at this point.
However, the disease will progress. So, following a diagnosis, it’s important to figure out future care. Ideally, a family member or members can eventually dedicate themselves to 24/7 care with proper training.
This is rarely the case, though. As much as someone cares for their loved one, becoming a 24/7 caretaker is challenging. Realistically, the search for professional care is the preferred option—especially for the later stages of Alzheimer’s.
Memory care homes are similar to assisted living facilities, except specially trained people staff them specifically to help with Alzheimer’s and related diseases. The physical design of these communities accommodates people with cognitive decline safely.
In addition to the safety, therapies are typically available to help nurture the resident’s memory and keep them engaged in a community. This gives those with dementia and Alzheimer’s the best chance at living out their golden years comfortably.
More Questions About What to Expect with Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s can be a scary thing, and there’s no reason you should do it alone. If someone you love is dealing with this terrible disease, reach out to us today.
The compassionate staff of Fox Trail Senior Living is happy to answer any questions you have. And if you’d like, we can book you and your loved one a tour to show you how our memory care facility will help your loved one thrive regardless of their diagnosis.