A representative from St. Martin’s Press contacted me about this new book, The Alzheimer’s Action Plan. I’ll be bringing excerpts of what they sent me for awhile. I thought I’d start with the following.
APPENDIX A: STAGES OF SYMPTOM PROGRESSION IN EARLY THROUGH MODERATE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
By Lisa Gwyther, M.S.W, ACSW
This isn’t a tool that doctors use for staging patients, but it should give family members an idea of what happens to people with Alzheimer’s as the disease progresses. Doctors use other tests for determining what stage the patient is in.
FIRST STAGE (MILD OR EARLY STAGE)—LASTS TWO TO FOUR YEARS LEADING UP TO AND AFTER DIAGNOSIS
Symptoms and Examples • Recent memory loss—repeats stories and questions. • Confusion about places—gets lost on way to work; arrives at wrong time or place. • Loss of spontaneity—becomes withdrawn and uninterested. • Mood / personality changes—becomes anxious about symptoms; avoids people. • Poor judgment—makes bad decisions. • Takes longer with routine chores—forgets grocery list; loses things; constantly rechecks calendar or clock. • Trouble handling money and paying bills—forgets which bills are paid.
SECOND STAGE (MODERATE OR MIDDLE STAGE)—LASTS TWO TO TEN YEARS AFTER DIAGNOSIS
Symptoms and Examples • Increasing memory loss and confusion, shorter attention span—can’t remember visits even though the visitor just left. • Problems recognizing close friends and / or family. • Repetitive movements. • Restless, especially in late afternoon and at night—may get up at night and wander. • Perceptual-motor problems—difficulty getting into a chair, setting table for a meal. • Difficulty organizing thoughts or thinking logically—mixes up day and night. • Can’t find right words—makes up stories to fill in memory blanks. • Problems with reading, writing—can’t follow written signs. • May be suspicious, irritable, fidgety, teary, or silly—may accuse children of stealing, spouse of infidelity. • Loss of impulse control—curses, tactless, may undress at inappropriate times or in wrong place. • Gains and then loses weight—forgets when last meal was eaten, may gradually lose interest in food. • May see or hear things that are not there. • Needs full-time supervision.
THIRD STAGE (LATE OR SEVERE STAGE)—LASTS ONE TO THREE YEARS
The third stage, which we don’t discuss in this book, is when the person’s abilities deteriorate significantly and nursing-home care may be required.
From The Alzheimer’s Action Plan by P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., and Lisa P. Gwyther, M.S.W., with Tina Adler. Copyright (c) 2008 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.