Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, Part 1Sep 1st, 2016 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Moments Blog
Alzheimer’s Stages Explained
Caregivers for family members and/or friends who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s find the availability of care-giving resources both helpful and encouraging. In particular, the explanation of stages of the disease and symptoms characteristic of each stage enable the caregiver to better plan for addressing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. He/she can be somewhat prepared to help the person with Alzheimer’s mitigate some of the symptoms and make life more pleasant for everyone involved.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
The first signs of a change in brain functioning (cognition) are generally mild and may go unnoticed. Banner Alzheimer’s Institute defines MCI as “…impairment in thinking skills that goes beyond normal age-related cognitive changes but does not meet criteria for dementia.”
The senior with MCI experiences a more-than-expected decline in her/his ability to function, based on earlier life experiences. However, MCI can only be identified with a complete cognitive evaluation, including standardized cognitive-testing instruments. For example, an early sign of MCI in this writer’s experience with her sister was impaired ability to complete tasks on the computer, tasks that she had been doing for years and gradually lost the ability to figure out. (She was one of the first persons trained to program computers back in the 1970′s.) MCI was diagnosed when an evaluation was completed; pre-Alzheimer’s was suspected based on family history.
Early Stage Alzheimer’s
The most common symptom of Early Stage Alzheimer’s is short-term (recent) memory loss. Changes in functioning also become obvious. Declining ability to do household chores, cook, clean, yard work, computer work, cell phone operation are common. Driving ability begins to be affected; particularly, being able to find one’s way around previously familiar surroundings. victims of this disease begin to experience problems finding words to complete thoughts. Banner Alzheimer’s Institute says, “Over the course of 1 to 3 years, a person with evolving changes in memory, thinking, mood and function gradually needs supervision or assistance to accomplish chores or tasks. And more specifically, extra support is needed for his or her physical and emotional wellbeing and safety.” BAI, April 2016.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Senior Blog when we will be talking about Moderate and Advanced Alzheimer’s.~Sharon Shaw Elrod, MSW, EdD Senior Editor and CEO, Senior Citizen Journal