Robert’s Alzheimer’s Journey
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease. This means it gets worse over time as the brain is more deeply impacted, causing symptoms to worsen.
Life with Alzheimer’s does not always start at diagnosis. For many people, the first sign of the disease comes years before. Difficulty concentrating. Confusion. Memory loss. Trouble finding the right words. They are some of the first symptoms to appear.
No two people experience the same symptoms at the same time or to the same degree. Despite this, there are some similarities found among those living with the disease.
Robert saw multiple doctors before he received his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He was officially diagnosed at age 69 after experiencing his first symptoms two years earlier. He is currently dealing with the physical, emotional, and mental challenges of the disease that affect his life every day. Below you can learn more about how Alzheimer’s is impacting Robert.
Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
While Robert had some cognitive tests performed by his doctor, his neurologist has not yet conducted a full neurological exam. Coping with his diagnosis has been scary and tough, especially since he is already experiencing memory loss and other symptoms. Robert worries that they will worsen. He has always been an independent person – will he be able to continue to be?
Stages of Alzheimer’s
Robert is in the early stage of Alzheimer’s. He notices that his memory is not what it used to be. His words get jumbled up – sometimes he cannot find the right word for what he wants to say. Forgetting someone’s name is so unlike him. Occasionally, he forgets to take his medication. And where did those keys go again? To help with all of this, he makes lots of lists and tries to put things back in the same exact spot for easy finding.
Explore the three main stages of Alzheimer’s – click on each stage below to learn more.
In the early stage, people living with Alzheimer’s are still pretty independent. Work, social get-togethers, driving – they will likely be able to continue with many everyday activities. Memory loss usually starts gradually and gets more noticeable as it progresses. People with Alzheimer’s may forget someone’s name, misplace objects, or have difficulty remembering common words. Making plans and staying organized begin to become more challenging. And completing normal day-to-day tasks, like washing dishes, may take a little longer.
This middle stage is usually the longest stage and can last for many years. As time goes on, people with Alzheimer’s may notice the need for more help and support than before. As the disease progresses, they may confuse words and have trouble remembering personal information, like their address or phone number. Completing multi-step tasks – like planning dinner or getting dressed – may seem more challenging.
Other symptoms may include:
- Mood changes, like feeling moody or withdrawn
- Difficulty reading, writing, and working with numbers
- Trouble swallowing or eating
- Changes in sleep patterns
In the late stage, carrying on a conversation, sitting, and walking become even more challenging. Caregivers will likely need to step in to help with daily basic care.
Other symptoms may include:
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Agitation and aggression
- Inability to communicate
- Increased risk of wandering
- Confusion, especially around the date, time, and place
- Sleep issues
In addition to memory loss, Robert feels drained and a little bit anxious. Because his symptoms are worsening, he needs more help than usual. Rides to the doctor. Taking notes during appointments. Managing his checkbook. Help with the house. He worries about being a burden on his wife, Sarah.
Even though his family supports him, he often feels like they do not really understand what he is going through. They even started treating him differently after his diagnosis.
Click on the icons to discover helpful articles for managing symptoms.
Coming to Terms with the New Robert
As the disease progresses, Robert has some good days and not-so-good days. At times, he is flooded with emotions. Sadness. Anger. Disbelief. Fear of what the future holds. Even relief – at least he now knows what is causing his symptoms. He misses the old Robert. His life looks completely different than before the diagnosis. He is coping the best he can, and he hopes to maintain his independence for as long as possible.