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Caregiving Throughout All Stages of Alzheimer's

Has a loved one recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia? After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a lot may run through your mind. Whether you are thinking about who will care for your loved one or if you step right into the role of serving as their primary caregiver, you may wonder what symptoms and changes to expect. Each person is affected by Alzheimer’s disease differently, so what symptoms and challenges occur for one person may not occur in your loved one. However, it’s still important to know what to expect so you can be an effective caregiver for your loved one throughout all the stages of memory loss.

According to Loretta Lilly, Executive Director at The Florence Presbyterian Community, a Life Plan Community in Florence, SC, something many people don’t understand is that there are different stages of Alzheimer’s disease. “Throughout the stages of memory loss, your loved one may face an array of symptoms that can affect their daily lives. Although these may not impact them much in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s, their declining ability to remember events and places, problem-solve, make rational decisions, speak and find the right words can cause a range of problems,” says Loretta. “Your loved one may become agitated and angry or even depressed and withdrawn as a result of the changes they are facing. As memory loss progresses, it can become harder for them to deal with their emotions and more stressful for you as a caregiver. Although there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, being prepared and knowing what to expect can usually help ease your caregiving journey and allow you to provide the best care possible for your loved one.”

Although Alzheimer’s has many stages, they can typically be narrowed down to three stages, according to the Alzheimer’s Association®. In general, these stages can provide a range of different symptoms, challenges and behaviors. Depending on your loved one, you may encounter at least some of these. By understanding what each stage entails, you can be best prepared for the symptoms that come your way.

Early-Stage Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, in the early stages, also known as mild Alzheimer’s disease, seniors are still able to do much of their daily activities on their own. This doesn’t mean that symptoms of memory loss are absent, they just show up in more subtle ways, including memory lapses, difficulty concentrating or forgetting everyday items. As a caregiver, if you begin to notice these problems, it could signal your loved one is in the early stages.

  • Difficulty remembering names or familiar words
  • Inability to perform normal tasks at work or at home
  • Losing valuable items or misplacing things
  • Trouble planning activities or organizing

Caregiving at this point may not be too difficult. They may not need much assistance, leaving you to step in only when necessary. This stage can be frustrating for your loved one, so you should be patient and listen to their thoughts and concerns.

Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s

Middle-stage Alzheimer’s is the longest stage. Also known as moderate Alzheimer’s disease, this stage can last a number of years and cause the senior to need a higher level of care. Caregivers with loved ones in this stage may begin to notice more agitation, confusion and acting out from their loved one. According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, signs can include:

  • Forgetting their own personal history and not recognizing those closest to them
  • Increased moodiness or withdrawal in social or mentally challenging situations
  • Confusion about where they are as well as time and date
  • Inability to do activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and toileting
  • An increased risk of wandering and potentially getting lost
  • Trouble sleeping, sundowning and delusions
  • Repetitive behavior and other personality and behavioral changes

When your loved one is in the middle stages, it’s important to reassure them that they are safe with you and that you are there for them. Try to take measures to decrease wandering and help with sundowning by creating a routine that you follow each day. Try to wake up, eat and go to sleep at the same time each day.

Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

Late-stage Alzheimer’s is the most severe stage. Caregivers may notice their loved one can no longer respond to conversation or control their movements. Those in the final stages of memory loss may also have trouble communicating pain or performing any daily tasks. According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, your loved one may be in the final stages if you notice:

  • They need constant, around-the-clock care and help with daily activities
  • Recent experiences and surroundings can no longer be remembered
  • Physical abilities decline, including the ability to walk, sit and swallow
  • Communication continues to decrease
  • Infections and illnesses become more frequent

This is the most difficult stage for many caregivers and their loved ones. Be sure to reassure them you are there to help and communicate with them in other ways, like through touch. It can help to have someone come in to administer medication or even consider a memory care community, as caregiver stress and burnout can become too much to handle.

Your Resource for Memory Care Education and Support

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and the stages that your loved one could face, or for more help and support with caregiving, contact the team at The Florence Presbyterian Community. We would be happy to help give you the guidance you need to be able to provide your loved one with optimal care or the support you deserve to help you prevent caregiver burnout and stress. Contact us today.

Senior Care with Southern Charm

Welcome to The Florence Presbyterian Community. Located on 35 acres of beautifully manicured lawns and mature oak trees, our full-service Life Plan Community offers our residents natural southern beauty, charm, hospitality and tradition.

Residents of The Florence Presbyterian Community enjoy the southern charm our community provides and the engaging opportunities that abound each day. Sit on the veranda-style front porch and chat with friends while enjoying a cool glass of iced tea, cast your fishing line off the pier, relax in your patio home. Here, residents have the opportunity to live each day to its fullest potential.

Longevity & Innovation as a Life Plan Community

The Florence Presbyterian Community is a Life Plan Community, offering a wide range of senior lifestyles and services including independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing care and short-term rehabilitation.

We believe a Life Plan Community should allow future planning and living to merge. Having a plan in place – and the security of access to a continuum of healthcare services – grants residents the freedom to live life to the fullest.

A Legacy of Service

As one of the Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina, The Florence Presbyterian Community is a compassionate Christian ministry committed to enriching the quality of life for seniors of all faiths. Built on the values of relationships, service, teamwork and excellence, we ensure our mission and faith are honored daily. While striving to create the highest quality of retirement lifestyles for our residents, we work each day to enrich the spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being of seniors and their families, with our deep heritage leading the way.

Learn more about The Florence Presbyterian Community. Contact us today!