The Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s

By: Melissa Barnickel, CPA, CLTC

Baygroup Insurance LLC

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that is characterized by problems with memory, behavior, and thinking. Symptoms usually appear slowly and worsen with time, eventually interfering with everyday tasks. Alzheimer’s makes up 60-80% of dementia cases, but it is important to remember that not all dementia falls under the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. While mild memory loss can be a normal part of aging, Alzheimer’s is characterized by growing severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The disease can be broken down into seven specific stages outlined below to help provide an idea of what to expect if you or a loved one is diagnosed:

Stage One: No Noticeable Impairment

At this point, although one may actually have Alzheimer’s disease, it is not yet detectable and memory loss is not apparent to those around the person.

Stage Two: Very Small Decline

Minor memory problems may start to occur, but they are not necessarily distinguishable from normal age related memory loss. The individual may still do well on memory tests and the disease might still not be noticeable to their loved ones or doctors.

Stage Three: Small Decline

At this point, loved ones and doctors of the person in question may start to notice signs of memory decline. Symptoms include:

-Difficulty remembering new names
-Trouble finding the right words
-Losing possessions easily
-Trouble with organizing and planning

Stage Four: Moderate Decline

When a patient is in moderate decline, they start to have typical signs of Alzheimer’s. These include:

-Forgetting details about their life
-Difficulty with math
-Bad short term memory
-Trouble with finances and paying bills

Stage Five: Moderately Severe Decline

Those in the fifth stage of Alzheimer’s begin to need help with day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of this stage include:

-Trouble dressing oneself
-An inability to recall simple details about one’s life
-Pronounced confusion

Patients in this stage can usually still recall family members and memories from their childhood. In addition, they usually can still bathe and toilet independently.

Stage Six: Severe Decline

Once patients reach this stage they typically need a professional level of care and constant supervision. The progression of the disease at this stage includes:

-Personality changes
-Behavioral changes
-Confusion over their environment
-Wandering
-Incontinence
-Loss of facial recognize, save for perhaps the closest of relatives
-Loss of most details of personal history

Stage 7: Extremely Severe Decline

As Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness, the final stage means that the patient is nearing death. They lose their ability to communicate or respond to their environment and require assistance with all daily activities. Some patients may still be able to utter phrases and/or words, while others lose their ability to swallow.

So What Can You Do to Help Treat the Disease?

While current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop the disease from progressing entirely, there is a worldwide effort to delay the onset of the disease, treat it, and prevent it from developing in the first place. There are currently treatments available that can improve the quality of life for both the patient and the caregivers.

There are more than 5 million Americans living with the disease today. More than 15 million people provide care for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. In 2016 these caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of care valued at $230 billion dollars. With statistics like these, it is important to make sure you and your loved ones are protected should you ever be in the difficult position to need such care one day. Medicare and regular health insurance unfortunately do not cover the cost of care for everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, cooking, taking medications, etc. However, there are certain types of insurance that can help to cover these costs.

Long term care insurance is one type that pays for qualified long term care expenses. There is also life insurance or an annuity with a long term care rider, life insurance with a chronic illness rider, or short term care insurance, all of which would help pay for custodial care needed for someone with Alzheimer’s. It is important to remember that you cannot purchase any of these items for someone after they are diagnosed. Additionally, there is a home service contract that can provide assistance to someone with special cognitive needs.This can be purchased provided the intended person could live on their own for a 30-day period. With all of these options it is best to plan ahead keeping in mind that most people purchase these types of insurance between the ages of 50 and 65 years old. Baygroup Insurance is happy to answer any questions you might have regarding these services. Please visit http://www.baygroupinsurance.com/forms/contact-us or call us at 410-557-7907 for more information.

Sources

“What are the 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?” Alzheimers.net. 14 Aug 2017. <http://www.alzheimers.net/stages-of-alzheimers-disease/>.

“2017 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures.” Alzheimer’s Association. 14 Aug 2017.<http://www.alz.org/facts/overview.asp>.

“What is Alzheimer’s?” Alzheimer’s Association. 14 Aug 2017.<http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp>.

Add a Comment