Knowing the Stages of Alzheimer’s

Early diagnosis is key to implementing the best methods available to temporarily halt or slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. If someone you love has been diagnosed with this condition, you may not know what to expect as it progresses.

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, understanding each stage can help you work with your loved one to manage the disease and keep some symptoms from getting worse over time. Most importantly, knowing each stage can help provide the best quality of life for your loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Our Continued Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Sussex County has outlined each stage of Alzheimer’s and provided insight into the best ways to manage dementia. 

Stage 1: Before any symptoms are noticeable

Changes in the brain can start happening before the person exhibits any symptoms, often 10 to 15 years before. While no treatments can halt the development of Alzheimer’s at this stage, doctors recommend having regular screenings to help detect early signs. Make sure to set up recurring appointments for your loved one. Also, set reminders in your phone or calendar so you are prepared to take your loved one to these appointments.   

Stage 2: Basic forgetfulness 

We all forget things occasionally, like where we left our keys or our cell phone, and this stage of Alzheimer’s can often appear as the usual forgetfulness. However, you may notice your loved one starts forgetting names of people, places, and things that they usually would not have trouble remembering. You may notice it happening before a licensed professional because nobody knows your mom and dad like you do. You understand what can be chalked up to stress or lack of sleep and what is a serious cause of concern. Trust your gut if something seems off with your loved one, get them to a doctor as soon as possible. 

Stage 3: Substantial memory difficulties 

This stage is beyond forgetting the occasional name of someone you met last month. Although a common excuse is to blame it on age, it soon becomes apparent that age is not the culprit. Substantial memory difficulties include having trouble remembering something you just saw or read, trouble with organization and making plans, and noticeably struggling in social situations. At this stage, or even before this stage, it’s important to start thinking about professional memory care local to you and your family. Memory care centers are experienced in managing Alzheimer’s and incorporating the latest research available into methods that enhance care and provide meaning to your loved one each day. 

Stage 4: Beyond memory loss

Once significant memory loss has set in, your loved one will be able to remember things like their name and where they live, but their short-term memory will be markedly worse. The ongoing damage  to their brain cells makes recalling and retaining information very difficult, and they can become irritable, stressed, and withdrawn. Experienced dementia caregivers will have the patience and flexibility to try different techniques to minimize stress, irritability and other negative behaviors. They will also be able to share these techniques with you and your family to ensure everyone has chances to connect with your loved one in  positive ways. 

Stage 5: Independence decreases

At this stage it’s usually no longer safe for your loved one to live alone without full-time assistance. It’s also common for people to struggle with daily tasks like getting dressed, preparing food, and light cleaning around the house. If you’ve opted for an in-home dementia caregiver, now is the time to really consider the move into a memory care community where support is available 24-7. 

Stage 6: Severe symptoms

Everything becomes more strained during this stage, including communication, expressing emotions, and day-to-day activities. People in this stage will often become frustrated with their loved ones and the people taking care of them. 

Stage 7: Losing physical control

During the final phase of Alzheimer’s, the body begins to shut down alongside the brain. Your loved one will need help walking, sitting up, caring for themselves, and they’ll most likely need someone to take care of them around the clock. 

Advanced memory care in Sussex County, NJ

At United Methodist Communities, our Tapestries® Memory Care is specially designed to support and care for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. All of our residents are at different stages in their journey and we provide around-the-clock support and security to ensure quality of care and quality of life. 

When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it affects your entire family. You may be wondering how you’ll care for them as the disease progresses. For most families it’s not possible for one person to take on the role of full-time caregiver. At a certain stage, medical expertise is required to keep your loved one as comfortable as possible — which is our ongoing goal at Tapestries®. 

For more information about Tapestries® Memory Care in Sussex County, NJ, or if you have any questions about assisted living, please contact United Methodist Communities today at:

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    205 Jumping Brook Road
    Neptune, NJ 07753
    Phone: 732-922-9800