Friday, April 25, 2014

Wednesday, January 06, 2010 judy, Community Member, asks

Q: how long does the stages last

My mom is in the third stage but she has been the same for months and don't get me wrong I am glad but sometimes I wonder If she has Alzheimers and It my just be wishfull thinking.

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Answers (6)
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
1/ 7/10 8:35am

Hi Judy,

I've heard of people living with Alzheimer's for 20 years, but most live about eight to ten. The stages can vary just as much. As CJ says, your doctor is the one to ask, because everyone is different. However, don't borrow trouble. If your mother is doing well, and if the doctor has prescribed medication that helps her, this could last for awhile. Enjoy the breather. Yes, you know it will get worse, but this is a case of a day at a time. Try to grab the good times when you can. Work closely with her doctor and use medications, if they are prescribed, that have helped many stave off the worst of the disease symptoms.

 

Take care,

Carol

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CJ, Community Member
1/ 7/10 7:20am

Hello.  It sounds as if your mother is in good hands, if you are asking this question.  My sense is that this is probably a question for your mother's physician.  It's true that other forms of dementia mimic alzheimers.  Different tests can be run by physicians to rule out these other kinds of dementia. 

 

To answer your question, though, it's likely to be different with each person.  My mother is somewhere between stages 4 and 5, and she has been this way for a little over a year.  The medications slow the progression of the disease; they do not reverse the effects of the damage, nor stop its progression entirely. 

 

Your mother is likely to progress very slowly through the stages, if she does have alzheimers and if she is on medication at this point.  My uncle was diagnosed with alzheimers when we was 90 years old, and he died when he was 98, so in his case, it took many years before alzheimers went through different stages with him.

 

So your mom could stay this way for a couple of years, I imagine, before you notice any further changes, as long as she stays on her medications.  I wish my family had sought medical intervention sooner, since the prognosis is better for those whose alzheimers is discovered early and for whom medical intervention is sought. 

 

Your mom's lucky to have you with her, helping her while she goes through the process.

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AFA Social Services, Health Guide
1/ 7/10 11:22am

The tricky part about stages and phases of Alzheimer’s disease is that everyone progresses differently.  It is very hard to predict how long, for example, a person might be in the middle stage.  There are national averages that offer statistics, including that the average amount of time between diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and death is 8 years.  However, some people progress very quickly and pass on in only 3-4 years, while other progress very slowly and can live for up to 20 years.  The important part is to have enough knowledge to recognize and respond to each new need of your loved one.
You stated that you “wonder if [your mother] has Alzheimer’s." If you are unsure of your mother’s diagnosis, it is strongly recommended that you consult with her primary care physician or neurologist right away and request testing.  This will help determine what illness your mother has, and can personalize the direction of her care and treatment.

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NC, Community Member
1/ 7/10 12:37pm

It sounds like you are not sure what type of dementia she has. You need to find a psychiatrist or neurologist to get her tested - ask the family doctor for referral. The family doctor won't do that automatically.

About staging, you can check the website www.alzinfo.org under clinical stages for Alzheimer's.

Stage 3 has a long way to go if it is Alzheimer's.

 

Usually the end stage takes 1 to 3 years (stage 7) and it takes a long time to be progressive unless she has early onset Alzheimer's.

Sometimes they stay the same for years. My father-in-law does that and he has veen stable for 3 years except his heart problem that was stablized also last year.

 

Take care,

Nina

 

 

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NC, Community Member
1/ 7/10 12:41pm

The website for the clinical stages is:

http://www.alzinfo.org/clinical-stages-of-alzheimers-disease.asp

 

I also like to add that for early onset AD, it takes 5 years. For regular/late onset Ad, it takes 10 to 20 years. It all depends on the person. One may also have other complications and make the life shorter.

In your mother's case, it seems to be early stage.

 

Good luck,
Nina

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jft, Community Member
1/11/11 4:28pm

What do you mean by early onset AD?

JFT

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NC, Community Member
1/12/11 2:44pm

There are 2 kinds of Alzheimer's. Early onset Alzheimer's and late onset/regular Alzheimer's for the elderly.

There is info. in the internet: Usually most elders have regular Alzheimer's that takes a long time. However, there are some cases when younger people get early onset Alzheimers. They may be in the 40s or 50s. Younger people with early onset Alzheimer's tend to die in 5 years as it is faster during the process.

 

Nina

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jft, Community Member
1/12/11 3:10pm

My mother is 76 but she has been having problems for about 7-8 years.  Hers started with drastic mood swings and severe anger.  She was living with me but would leave without any notice of where she was going and we had to find her. She was very confrontational.  I tried to get her to go to doctor but she wouldn't so we had to have the hosp. ER admit her to the psychiatric center to get her on the meds.  She quit them when she came out after a week.  So we had to do the same thing again when she semi-tried to hurt someone by throwing dishes at them.  So about 2004 I guess.  But once she got on medicine and stayed on it she seemed ok for a long time.  But this past year she has started to become disoriented with where she was, what house she was in, where was her dog Barney.  Then we went to my sons house and when we got back in our house she asked where we had been and that was in Sept or October of Last year.  She can't remember the family coming for Christmas.  Whether she has eaten or what.  She was always active and now just sits and stares at whatever.  We have tried different TV programs, movies, reading, puzzles anything but she can't do those anymore.  She thinks I tell her things when I didn't .  Also last week she had to nights, one where she was screaming and talking gibberish for a long time and the next night she got strangled and when I got her awake she just looked at me and moved over to the middle of the bed like when I was very small and would want to sleep with her and she held the covers for me both nights once she realized who I was.  The doctor told me yesterday she was on the downward spiral and things would worsen faster now and she would need constant care and to get prepared.  I don't understand what stage this is.  I guess for my own mind or whatever I need to know stages or something so I know what to do.  I do not want her to go to a center.  I want to keep her home with me like I promised.  I have not been thru Alzheimer's before.  Most of my family has died from Cancer or heart disease.  If you have any information I would appreciate it very much.  Thank you Jeannette

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NC, Community Member
1/12/11 5:53pm

Jeannette,

 

There are 7 clincal stages according to this website:

http://www.alzinfo.org/clinical-stages-of-alzheimers

 

It sounds like she may be in moderate stage or stage 6. I don't know enough info. Does she need help to take a bath? Do you have to wash her hands? Does she need help in the bathroom? It is not end stage if she is still eating without being fed. Does she need feeding? My father-in-law is in late stage 6 and he has been in stage 5/6 for quite a long time (3 years.) My FIL does not remember anything that happened the last hour or that we saw him in Dec. He has no clues what happened in the near past.

 

She may not understand TV anymore and does not know how to use a phone. So she may need other stimulations. TV will not do good anymore. You may show her a good happy movie and etc. My FIL does not understand TV anymore and he cannot read/write either. In this case, my FIL is doing well in a group with his peers. The nursing home can show him other things to do in a group.

 

The elders with dementia really need some priogram to help them to cope. Maybe you can try day care senior center. If she is in a wheelchair and cannot walk, then it maybe pretty bad but she can still try o join some group to have some activity. This is when the nursing home comes in. A private home cannot provide that.

 

Also sometimes the doctor may not be right as there may be other conditions that makes her look very bad. My FIL was very sick in May and people thought he was in end stage because he stopped eatiing. But after we fixed his non-dementia problem in June, he is doing well in a new home for memory impaired.

 

She may need to have different environment so she can be helped. If she needs nurses or 24 hours care, then she should be given that. With proper care, she may still live for a long while.

 

On the other hand, if you want to keep her at home, it is about quality of life. Being at home may not make her  live longer like being in a nursing home because it is not a controlled enviornment. A private is an open environment and is not fit for an elder with moderate severe Alzheimer's. This is what we learned from my FIL. His old house is not fit for such patient.

 

I think the elder's mind is fragile at this point because they are very confused at this stage.

 

Just my 2 cents,

Nina

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jft, Community Member
1/12/11 3:10pm

My mother is 76 but she has been having problems for about 7-8 years.  Hers started with drastic mood swings and severe anger.  She was living with me but would leave without any notice of where she was going and we had to find her. She was very confrontational.  I tried to get her to go to doctor but she wouldn't so we had to have the hosp. ER admit her to the psychiatric center to get her on the meds.  She quit them when she came out after a week.  So we had to do the same thing again when she semi-tried to hurt someone by throwing dishes at them.  So about 2004 I guess.  But once she got on medicine and stayed on it she seemed ok for a long time.  But this past year she has started to become disoriented with where she was, what house she was in, where was her dog Barney.  Then we went to my sons house and when we got back in our house she asked where we had been and that was in Sept or October of Last year.  She can't remember the family coming for Christmas.  Whether she has eaten or what.  She was always active and now just sits and stares at whatever.  We have tried different TV programs, movies, reading, puzzles anything but she can't do those anymore.  She thinks I tell her things when I didn't .  Also last week she had to nights, one where she was screaming and talking gibberish for a long time and the next night she got strangled and when I got her awake she just looked at me and moved over to the middle of the bed like when I was very small and would want to sleep with her and she held the covers for me both nights once she realized who I was.  The doctor told me yesterday she was on the downward spiral and things would worsen faster now and she would need constant care and to get prepared.  I don't understand what stage this is.  I guess for my own mind or whatever I need to know stages or something so I know what to do.  I do not want her to go to a center.  I want to keep her home with me like I promised.  I have not been thru Alzheimer's before.  Most of my family has died from Cancer or heart disease.  If you have any information I would appreciate it very much.  Thank you Jeannette

Reply
Dorian Martin, Health Guide
1/11/10 11:17am

Hi, Judy,

 

I'd also suggest that the length of stages can be tied to other health issues that the loved one experiences. For instance, my mom had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) from smoking. I believe that her bad lungs caused her Alzheimer's to progress faster. My grandmother, on the other hand, didn't have any significant health issues so her dementia stages (and her life with dementia) seemed to last a long time.

 

Take care and keep us posted!

 

Dorian

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By judy, Community Member— Last Modified: 03/16/13, First Published: 01/06/10