Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was an Alzheimer’s care manual, with step-by-step details on what to anticipate at each stage of the disease? While there are some general commonalities in the progression of dementia, each person’s experience is different. This makes it difficult to know what to anticipate on any given day.
Despite the unpredictability of Alzheimer’s disease, there are certain situations which are beyond the typical array of expectations to watch for. One of the most concerning is an abrupt worsening of symptoms. This can occur for a variety of reasons:
- Disruption to normal routine from a move, change in caregivers, hospitalization, etc.
- Brain injury from a fall or a stroke
- Delirium, caused by an infection, hospital stay or surgery, medication side effects, insufficient sleep, dehydration, or possibly even constipation
- An underlying illness such as cancer or prion disease
What Are the Typical Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, and as of now, incurable. Therefore, a decline in condition is to be expected. An abrupt shift in the person’s condition, however, is atypical. In general, the disease progresses through the following stages:
- Early: the initial detectable signs of Alzheimer’s are typically very mild, including short-term memory lapses, forgetting a word, or getting lost.
- Middle: In the middle stage of the disease, cognitive challenges progress to the point that the person struggles with independently performing activities of daily living.
- Late: the last stage of Alzheimer’s, which can take years to reach, involves a lack of response and recognition of both people and environment, as the body begins to shut down.
If You Notice Sudden Worsening of Dementia…
Seek medical help immediately if a rapid decline is noted so that the cause can be pinpointed and addressed.
A dementia care journal can be an extremely helpful tool, before, during, and after worsening symptoms. Daily journaling will allow you to keep track of:
- Any challenging behaviors noted, with particulars on time of day and possible triggers or contributing circumstances
- Medications taken and any side effects detected
- What works and what doesn’t work in helping the individual manage challenges
- The individual’s overall demeanor on any particular day
- Sleeping and eating habits
These kinds of details will be invaluable in helping to patch together what may have caused a rapid change in condition and how to remedy it.
CareWorks Health Services’ caregivers are specially trained and skilled in providing care for individuals with dementia and detecting any changes in condition. Contact us online or call us at (949) 859-4700 and let us walk beside you on your dementia care journey.