When a neurologist diagnosed your mom’s Alzheimer’s disease, she’s likely had it for several years. She’s progressed to early-stage Alzheimer’s. What should your family expect from here?
The Early Stages
In the early stages, your mom will be forgetful. It gets worse as the months and years go by. First, she may forget where she put her keys. While the same thing happens to you, you can retrace your steps. She struggles to remember her movements in the past few hours.
Eventually, she’ll start telling you the same things over and over. She asks you what you’re making for dinner. Ten minutes later, she asks you the same question. She may make an appointment with her dentist and forget all about it, even though it’s written on the calendar.
As her retention and memory recall skills decrease, she may withdraw from others. She doesn’t want to have anyone over. If you’re having a gathering, she hides away in her room. If you take her shopping, a crowded store may become too much. You’ll be in line to check out, and she wants to leave now, so you have to abandon your cart or have someone else take her outside.
The final aspects of the early stages are when a sense of time and location gets muddled. Your mom may not have any idea it’s January and come out of her room dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. She’ll start forgetting where she lives, which increases the risk of wandering.
In the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, your mom’s need for care is apparent. She doesn’t sleep through the night. She often wakes up and wants to go outside for a walk. You’re sleeping and become exhausted trying to stick to a routine when it comes to sleep.
She’ll start becoming paranoid that others are stealing her items, even though she’s misplacing them and forgetting them. She may see things that aren’t there or believe something is true, even though it’s not. Your mom is convinced your aunt moved in next door, but the reality is that your aunt lives in another country.
Your mom will reach a point where she may be irate and lash out at you and others. Don’t be surprised if she starts punching or kicking you if you try to keep her from going outside alone.
In the final stages, she will experience incontinence. If she talks at all, it’s usually no more than a string of two or three words that don’t make sense. She’ll stop walking around and require a wheelchair or be confined to her bed. She’ll stop being able to swallow and will stop eating.
You Need Help
Every stage of Alzheimer’s benefits from personal care at home services. Don’t put off hiring caregivers until the end. Get your mom or dad acquainted with personal care at home caregivers early to help form a lasting bond while the memory skills are still strong.