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Understanding Alzheimer’s: The Three Stages

June 21, Summer Solstice, is also known as the Longest Day. The Alzheimer’s Association uses this day each year to promote awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s and dementia as we all “fight the darkness” of memory loss.

Morning Pointe Senior Living communities include not only assisted living centers but also stand-alone Alzheimer’s Centers of Excellence and campuses that include both assisted living and memory care. We care for individuals with memory deficits on a daily basis, and we would like to take this opportunity to increase awareness not only of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia but also of the different stages of Alzheimer’s.

Associates in our Morning Pointe communities who work with our Alzheimer’s residents are trained in the levels of Alzheimer’s so that they can care for each individual appropriately and offer each one the best quality of life at each stage.

“We recognize each resident as individuals with their unique likes, dislikes and needs,” said Beth Janney, RN, MBA, CRRN, CDP, CADDCT and Corporate Director of Memory Care for Morning Pointe Senior Living. “We provide for their individual needs even as those needs change throughout the disease process.”

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Stage 1: Early-Stage Dementia

In the early stage of dementia, symptoms are often subtle and may go unnoticed for some time. The senior may start having difficulties with everyday tasks that require thought, such as planning or organizing. They may start forgetting recent conversations or events, or misplacing commonly used items.

During this stage, it’s crucial to seek medical advice if you notice changes in memory, mood, or behavior. Early detection can allow for better planning, treatments that might slow the progression, and the implementation of strategies to maintain quality of life.

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Stage 2: Mid-Stage Dementia

As dementia progresses into the mid-stage, symptoms become more evident and interfere more significantly with a person’s daily life. This stage is usually the longest and can last for many years.

During mid-stage dementia, the person may forget familiar people, places, or things. They may struggle with language skills, such as having difficulty finding the right words for objects or people. Other changes include needing assistance with personal care, experiencing confusion about time and place, and showing increasing signs of restlessness or agitation.

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Stage 3: Late-Stage Dementia

Late-stage dementia, often referred to as advanced dementia, involves significant cognitive decline. At this point, the person may have difficulty recognizing family members or friends and may lose the ability to communicate verbally. Physical changes may occur, such as difficulties with walking, standing, and eventually, swallowing.

This stage of dementia requires full-time care.

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Conclusion

Understanding the stages of dementia can help families plan for the future, make important decisions about care, and provide the necessary support for their loved ones. At Morning Pointe, we offer a variety of activities and therapies designed to engage and stimulate residents at all stages of dementia, providing comfort, enrichment, and a sense of community. We believe in preserving the dignity and individuality of our residents, supporting them and their families as they navigate the journey of dementia.

Dementia doesn’t define the person; they are so much more than their diagnosis. By understanding dementia’s stages, we can provide a caring, nurturing environment that celebrates each person’s unique journey and ensures the best quality of life possible at every stage.

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