PatchMate Tracker

What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that results in severe memory loss. Alzheimer's disease can last for up to 20 years, with symptoms developing slowly and worsening over time. It is the most common form of dementia. Although typically diagnosed in older adults, Alzheimer's disease can appear in those under the age of 65 as well—as "early onset" Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, younger adults tend to experience a faster progression of Alzheimer's symptoms than elderly patients.

Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that results in severe memory loss, interfering with a person's ability to live independently. Alzheimer's disease can last for up to 20 years, with symptoms developing slowly and worsening over time. It is the most common form of dementia. Although typically diagnosed in older adults, Alzheimer's disease can appear in those under the age of 65 as well—as "early onset" Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, younger adults tend to experience a faster progression of Alzheimer's symptoms than elderly patients.

What to Expect with Alzheimer's Disease

Since Alzheimer's is progressive, it helps to look at it in terms of stages. Knowing the stages of Alzheimer's can help you get a general idea of what to expect and how to provide care over time. The three stages of Alzheimer's to become familiar with are:

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe

So how do you know if it's old age or Alzheimer's? While old age typically results in some memory loss, Alzheimer's disease leads to loss of cognition—which includes memory, understanding, communication, and reasoning skills. Completing this checklist could help the doctor determine if your loved one is exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Learn more about each stage of Alzheimer's and get real Alzheimer's caregiver suggestions to help you make the most of every day with your loved one.

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

  • Mild Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

    Most people in the mild stage of Alzheimer's are capable of managing many of their daily activities themselves, but may need some help staying organized.

    CHANGES TO LOOK FOR:

    Struggling
    • with household tasks or tasks requiring multiple steps
    • to find the right words
    • to stay organized or think logically
    • to manage finances and pay bills
    Avoiding
    • social situations
    Forgetting
    • where they are
    • appointments, people's names, or recent events
    • where they put things (especially things of value)

    Caregiver Insight

    When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, you're likely to experience a range of emotions. Talking about emotions is healthy—Don't keep them bottled up!

    YOUR ROLE AS AN ALZHEIMER'S CAREGIVER

    In the early stages, expect to be there as a partner for the person with Alzheimer's disease, providing them with support as needed, encouraging them to talk about their needs and feelings, and helping them plan for the future while they can still take part. The amount of assistance provided by caregivers during this stage of Alzheimer's varies, so let your loved one's symptoms be your guide as you adjust your routine.

    AT THIS STAGE OF ALZHEIMER'S YOU MIGHT

    • Help your loved one manage his or her money.
    • Write reminders and leave them in the same place, like on the fridge.
    • Keep a list of family and friends' names matched with their photos and numbers.
    • Label drawers, cabinets, etc, with pictures or lists to make things easier to find.
    • Look into classes to help them stay physically and mentally active
    • (See our mild stage activity list.)
  • Moderate Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

    People at the moderate stage of Alzheimer's tend to have more trouble taking care of and expressing themselves, but can still play a role in their own day-to-day care and follow a comfortable routine.

    ALZHEIMER'S SYMPTOMS TO LOOK FOR:

    Struggling
    • to bathe, eat, get dressed or groom themselves
    • to do simple tasks like set the table or get up out of a chair
    • with table manners
    • to express oneself and understand others
    Experiencing
    • restlessness and wandering (especially in the late afternoon or evening)
    • feelings of suspicion, anger, depression, or becoming easily upset
    • unusual behavior (like unwillingness to bathe), as well as repetitive behaviors
    Forgetting
    • where they are or what day it is
    • their own address or telephone number
    • what family members look like

    Caregiver Insight

    As your caregiving responsibilities increase, it's easy to forget to care for yourself. Take breaks even if they're short, and let well-meaning friends and family members help.

    YOUR ROLE AS AN ALZHEIMER'S CAREGIVER

    During this stage of Alzheimer's, your loved one is likely to experience feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration as they adjust to having less independence and privacy. Your patience and understanding as an Alzheimer's caregiver can make this difficult transition period easier on both of you—while strengthening your relationship.

    AT THIS STAGE OF ALZHEIMER'S YOU MIGHT

    • Adjust your daily routine to match up with your loved one's changing needs.
    • Maintain structure in day-to-day activities to give them a sense of comfort.
    • Encourage your loved one to keep doing things he or she enjoys.
    • Help them share memories by telling stories with family or by scrapbooking.
    • Plan physical activities during the day to promote better sleep at night.
    • Take advantage of community resources (e.g., adult day centers).
    • Focus on the efforts your loved one makes (not on the results).
  • Severe Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

    Most people in this stage of Alzheimer's have lost the ability to express themselves clearly and require help with most daily care. But you can still communicate with them and show that you care, through sensory experiences involving touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell.

    ALZHEIMER'S SYMPTOMS TO LOOK FOR:

    Struggling
    • with most aspects of daily living, including walking and using the toilet (flushing, wiping, or disposing of tissue)
    • to communicate clearly—may become mute
    • with control of the bladder and or bowels
    • with tightened muscles, seizures, and loss of balance
    • with weight loss, ultra-sensitive skin, and increased vulnerability to infections
    Experiencing
    • major changes in sleep patterns
    • changes in personality or behavior—such as becoming suspicious or compulsive
    • repetitive instances of crying out, groaning, screaming, or mumbling loudly
    • oversleeping (eventually to the point of becoming bedridden)
    • frequent wandering and getting lost
    Forgetting
    • how to get home
    • to chew or swallow food (may simply refuse to eat)
    • what self and family members look like

    Caregiver Insight

    We're used to looking at progress in terms of improvement but with Alzheimer's, this only leads to frustration. Focusing on your loved one's efforts instead of results can help you feel more confident.

    YOUR ROLE AS AN ALZHEIMER'S CAREGIVER

    During this stage, your role as an Alzheimer's caregiver is to do what you can and help them with daily activities they may no longer be able to perform on their own.

    AT THIS STAGE OF ALZHEIMER'S YOU MIGHT

    • Assist the person with most of his or her daily needs
    • Continue connecting through the senses. (Play your loved one's favorite music, read books, and look at old photos together. Apply their favorite scented lotion, brush their hair, or just sit outside together)
  • Mild Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

  • Moderate Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

  • Severe Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

Find out if your loved one is showing signs or symptoms of Alzheimerís disease.

Find out if your loved one is showing signs or symptoms of Alzheimerís disease.

Prepare for a trip to the doctor with your loved one using this list of questions about Alzheimerís.

Prepare for a trip to the doctor with your loved one using this list of questions.

10/15 T-EXP-1318386

full Prescribing Information Patient Product Information www.fda.gov/medwatch Patient Assistance Now full Prescribing Information Patient Product Information www.fda.gov/medwatch Patient Assistance Now

The Exelon Patch mobile Site is best viewed in portrait mode