When Alzheimer’s disease strikes, everyone’s thoughts naturally go to the person who’s received the diagnosis. How will he or she cope? What are the next steps for treatment, and what life changes are in store?
These are important questions — but they apply just as much to the people who will be caregivers.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a disease that creates problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Its early warning signs can be subtle, and it develops slowly. The majority of Alzheimer’s patients are 65 and older.
What are the stages of Alzheimer’s?
As the disease progresses, the patient’s caregiver will need to become increasingly involved in everyday functions. As the caregiving becomes more intensive, it’s vital that those providing care practice self-care to preserve their mental, physical and emotional health.
Alzheimer’s usually presents in three distinct stages, each requiring a different level of caregiving:
• Early stage
The patient still has independent function. He or she can drive, engage in social activities or work and usually will do well on memory tests. Caregivers provide support and companionship and also ensure compliance with medication and other medical needs.