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Stages of Alzheimer's Disease
When a Nurse Aide understand the progression of Alzheimer's they will find it much easier to care for a patient without taking their actions personally. Most patients with Alzheimer’s will live 5-7 years after the disease is diagnosed.
Stage one or the early stage (mild) of Alzheimer's is marked by a loss of some short-term memory and trouble remembering certain words. They will have difficulty making decisions and handling routine tasks. They may want to do only what is familiar and not want to try anything new and find it difficult remembering how to get from one place to another. Emotionally they can begin to get frustrated and loose their temper easily. Their personality can begin to change and problems with judgment can occur. At this early stage most patients are still aware and in control enough to make giving care mostly routine.
Stage two or the mid-stage (moderate) of Alzheimer's will find the patient having much more difficulty with their ADLs. The Nurse Aide will begin to give personal care such as eating, dressing, and bathing for the patient. At this stage the patient will have less control over their emotions and the Nurse Aide will need to be calm and patient when giving care. Their short-term memory will be much poorer while their memories of the distant past will be very clear. The C.N.A. should not try to make the patient remember resent events but rather encourage the patent to take about their past. They will also not remember people such as family members or staff and be confused about the time, day and where they are. Patients can begin to call you by a different name or even think that you are part of their family such as a niece or nephew or grandchild. In order not to upset the patient it is ok to allow the patient to refer to you in this way.
In stage three or the late-stage (severe) of Alzheimer’s the patient will be unable to communicate. They will be completely dependent of the Nurse Aide for all of their ADLs. The patient will loose their speech; appetite, bladder and bowel control and have poor long-term memory. As the disease continues to advance the patient can revert to a fetal position and the mind will eventually shut down bodily functions.
As a Nurse Aide caring for patients with Alzheimer's it is very important to have patience and understand that as the disease progresses the patient will be able to do less and less and not understand anything that is being asked of them. Their remarks will make little sense and they will not remember any correction that you make. At this point the Nurse Aide should just agree with the patient and keep the atmosphere light and as joyful as possible.