Moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease: Moderate-to-Severe Stages

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder in which a person’s memory and cognitive functions deteriorate. Over time, the disease worsens and eventually the sufferer will face disability and increased dependence. Alzheimer’s Disease is broadly categorized into three stages – mild, moderate, and severe.

During the moderate-to-severe stage, people with Alzheimer’s Disease will need more assistance with the activities of daily living. Memory difficulties will increase and the person may become increasingly agitated and confused.

Symptoms of the Moderate-to-Severe Stage of Alzheimer’s Disease

  • The person may have difficulty recognizing close family members and friends.
  • Severe memory impairment will cause frustration and difficulty completing tasks that are even simple in nature.
  • Language will become more impaired, making conversation difficult.
  • Greater difficulty with carrying out basic activities of daily living such as bathe or dress oneself.
  • The person may become disoriented more often and wander more as the disease progresses.
  • The person may have more difficulty controlling somewhat inappropriate behaviors such as cursing.
  • Increased confusion and agitation.
  • Decreased self-care.

Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Alzheimer's Disease

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, and at this stage the emphasis is on managing symptoms. Treatment may include medications, therapies, and lifestyle modifications to help slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life of both the sufferer and their caregivers.

Medications such as memantine, antipsychotics, and cholinesterase inhibitors can be used to help manage symptoms.

Occupational, physical, and speech therapies may be used to help slow the progression of the disease.

Highly structured activities with positive reinforcement can help to decrease agitation or anxiety.

Caregivers may need to consider adaptive equipment to help with activities of daily living, and may develop ways to make the environment more supportive.

Tips for Coping with Moderate-to-Severe Alzheimer's Disease

  • Focus on the positive moments and activities.
  • Be aware that the person may become agitated or anxious and plan ahead of time to help diffuse situations.
  • Reassure the person that you care for them and are present.
  • Reorganize the home environment to ensure a safe and stress-free environment.
  • Prioritize meals, sleep, and hygiene in order to enhance quality of life.
  • Be aware of where the person is and what they are doing at all times.
  • Access respite care. It is important for caregivers to take breaks and seek support.

Caring for a loved one with Moderate-to-Severe Alzheimer’s Disease is a difficult task and can be overwhelming. It is important to access support from family and friends, from professionals such as social workers or geriatric care managers, or from specialized support groups, to help cope with the challenges of the condition.