Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that impairs the brain’s ability to think, remember, and behave. Memory loss is part of that. Understanding how Alzheimer’s and memory loss progresses can help caregivers and family members support loved ones.
Memory isn’t the only ability affected by the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s just the most recognizable.
Symptoms begin with light memory loss in the early stages. For example, a person may forget what items are called or the names of places. Often, they will replace the names they cannot remember with “that thing” or “that place.”
Alzheimer’s symptoms will then progress with predictable memory loss stages. Both the frontal lobe and hippocampus areas of the brain are affected. Impaired language and spatial awareness are also more noticeable symptoms as the disease progresses.
Memory Loss Stages
Signs of memory loss can be missed in the early stages. They’re often mistaken for aging signs. The Mayo Clinic lists the following distinguishable symptoms in each stage:
Stage 1: Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease
Signs at this stage may be mistaken for general signs of aging. Some imagine tests can be performed but not without a more significant cause.
Stage 2: Mild Cognitive Impairment
Noticeable changes in memory and cognitive abilities begin to occur. Memory and judgment lapses may happen more frequently. People close to the person exhibiting signs may start to notice repeat symptoms.
Stage 3: Mild Dementia
People close to the person exhibiting symptoms become concerned. A doctor is usually contacted. Repeat questioning occurs without the memory of questioning or learning the answer. Losing items becomes more common. Frustration and confusion grow as surroundings, events, and people become less memorable.
Stage 4: Moderate Dementia
Symptoms increase. Assistance is likely needed to complete some routine tasks and daily activities. Confusion in the identity of self, family members, whereabouts, and caregivers deepens. Agitation begins to develop at this stage as suspicion and aggression progress.
Stage 5: Severe Dementia
Full assistance is generally required at this stage, and people cannot communicate or remember any events or people with regularity.
First In, Last Out
An important idea to keep in mind with Alzheimer’s and memory loss is the first in, last out rule of thumb. Many people with dementia can remember people and places from their childhood or early adult years. However, they can’t reflect on yesterday’s events or even what they ate for breakfast.
If you have questions about how to support your loved one with Alzheimer’s, contact Olivenhain Guest Home. We provide compassionate memory care in a thriving assisted living community.