Alzheimer's Disease

By: Callie Estes

Normal changes due to aging

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Lose their memories of recent event

  • Slower reaction time

  • Difficulty finding or using the right words

  • Sleeping less

What is dementia?

Dementia is a general term that refers to a serious loss of mental abilities such as thinking, remembering, reasoning, and communication

Common Terms related to dementia

What is Alzheimer's disease?

It is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility.

What are the stages of Alzheimer's and associated symptoms?

  • Stage 1- no impairment:During this stage, Alzheimer’s disease is not detectable and no memory problems or other symptoms of dementia are evident.

  • Stage 2- very mild decline:The senior may notice minor memory problems or lose things around the house, although not to the point where the memory loss can easily be distinguished from normal age related memory loss. The person will still do well on memory tests and the disease is unlikely to be detected by physicians or loved ones.

  • Stage 3-mild decline:At this stage, the friends and family members of the senior may begin to notice memory and cognitive problems. Performance on memory and cognitive tests are affected and physicians will be able to detect impaired cognitive function.Patients in stage 3 will have difficulty in many areas including:

    • finding the right word during conversations
    • remembering names of new acquaintances
    • planning and organizing
  • Stage 4- moderate decline:In stage four of Alzheimer’s disease clear cut symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are apparent. Patients with stage four Alzheimer’s disease:

    • Have difficulty with simple arithmetic
    • May forget details about their life histories
    • Have poor short term memory (may not recall what they ate for breakfast, for example)
    • Inability to manage finance and pay bills
  • Stage 5- moderately severe decline:During the fifth stage of Alzheimer’s, patients begin to need help with many day to day activities. People in stage five of the disease may experience:

    • Significant confusion
    • Inability to recall simple details about themselves such as their own phone number
    • Difficulty dressing appropriately
  • Stage 6- severe decline: Patients with the sixth stage of Alzheimer’s disease need constant supervision and frequently require professional care. Symptoms include:

    • Confusion or unawareness of environment and surroundings
    • Major personality changes and potential behavior problems
    • The need for assistance with activities of daily living such as toileting and bathing
    • Inability to recognize faces except closest friends and relatives
    • Inability to remember most details of personal history
    • Loss of bowel and bladder control
    • Wandering
  • Stage 7- very severe decline:Stage seven is the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer’s disease is a terminal illness, patients in stage seven are nearing death. In stage seven of the disease, patients lose ability to respond to their environment or communicate. While they may still be able to utter words and phrases, they have no insight into their condition and need assistance with all activities of daily living. In the final stages of the illness, patients may lose their ability to swallow.

What strategies can you use to effectively communicate with a patient with Alzheimer's?

Interventions the NA can do to help with ADLs

  • Problem with bathing

  • Problems with grooming and dressing

  • Problems with toileting

  • The NA has to be respectful of what the patient/resident wants. The NA also has to be patient and just help the resident when needing help.

Common behaviors associated with Alzheimer's disease and what are suggestions for the family?

  • Agitation

  • Sun downing

  • Catastrophic reactions

  • Violet behavior

  • Pacing and wandering

  • Hallucinations or delusions

  • Depression

  • Perseveration or repetitive phrasing

  • Disruptiveness
  • All family's cope in different ways. They have to learn to be patient and realize that not everything their family member with Alzheimer disease says is what they actually mean. It is just the disease talking.

Community Resources

Organizations, books, counseling, and support groups

Alzheimer's association has a hotline that is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week