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Moderate Alzheimer's Disease

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Overview and Symptoms of Moderate Alzheimer's Dementia

Moderate Alzheimer's is usually the longest stage of the disease and can last for many years. The person with Alzheimer's will require a greater level of care, and at least some assistance with day-to-day care is required. At this point of the disease, symptoms will be noticeable to others, and may include:

  • Confusing words.
  • Getting frustrated or angry. Damage to nerve cells in the brain can make it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. Helping the person with personal care such as bathing can be the most challenging of all.
  • Forgetting events in their past. However, they usually are able to recall quite a lot of information about themselves and the names of their spouse or children.
  • Feeling moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations.
  • Being unable to recall their own address or telephone number.
  • Confusion about where they are or what day it is.
  • The need for help when choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion.
  • They may have trouble controlling bladder and bowels, but usually do not require assistance using the toilet.
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night.
  • An increased risk of wandering and becoming lost.
  • Personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior, like hand-wringing or tissue shredding.
  • They don’t usually require assistance with eating.

 

Caregiving In Moderate Alzheimer's Dementia

  1. Learn more skills. As your care recipient’s abilities decrease, you’ll need to develop and modify strategies and ways of coping that work for you and the person with dementia.  Learning more about the caregiving skills you need to deal with the changing needs of someone in this stage of the disease is crucial. Taking an Alzheimer's caregiving class is an important step.
  2. Be flexible. Being a caregiver for someone in the middle stages of Alzheimer's requires flexibility and patience. You’ll have to do more as the care recipient changes and they become more dependent on you. Make sure that there is structure and routine throughout each day and night, and modify them as that becomes necessary
  3. Take care of yourself. As caregiving responsibilities become more demanding, it's important to take care of yourself.  There will be challenging days, but there also will be good days. Your relationship with the person with dementia will change, and you will find new ways to connect. Make sure not to isolate yourself. While these changes are difficult for everyone involved, resources are available to help you manage as the disease progresses. Get support. Join in-person or online support groups for caregivers of those with dementia. Other caregivers can be a wonderful source of information and support.

If you notice changes in the person with dementia, speak with their family and let them know exactly what you have been noticing. They may need to go to the doctor to see if it is just progression of the dementia, or whether it is a medical problem that can be fixed, or a side effect of medication. You’ll have to do more as the care recipient changes and becomes more dependent on you.

Picture of Madhuri Reddy

Madhuri Reddy

Dr. Reddy is a specialist in Internal Medicine & Geriatric Medicine, and holds appointments at Harvard Medical School & Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, MA. For years she has seen first hand the struggles that families and caregivers go through while caring for older adults.

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Being a family caregiver can be deeply emotionally satisfying. At times, it can also be stressful and overwhelming. Caregiving is a big commitment and older adults may need a wide range of different types of assistance.