Until I started researching and living Alzheimer’s with my mom – nobody told me about the three levels of this disease. But I’ve seen them again and again as I’ve talked with other caregivers and observed my mom.
Level One: Your loved one begins to realize something isn’t quite right. He forgets where he parked the car. She forgets how to brush her teeth. They can’t count or say the alphabet. This is the level where Reverend G forgot part of the Lord’s Prayer. http://amzn.to/11QATC1
They begin to use coping mechanisms to help themselves remember. My mother parked in the exact same parking space every time she went to the grocery store. That’s how she remembered where her car was. She pinned her house keys to the inside of her slacks so that she was never locked out of her house because she couldn’t find her keys.
In Level One, the Alzheimer’s patient is afraid and usually keeps this fear a secret. During this time, the rest of the family needs to begin making some difficult decisions.
Level Two: I call Level Two, the intermission. This is the level where the Alzheimer’s medicines begin to work, where the loved one is more content, where everything seems to be okay – for a little while. None of the levels have a time frame because every patient reacts differently. Your loved one still remembers you and may be able to take care of herself, especially within the protective confines of assisted living.
During “Intermission for Reverend G” http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo, we see a love story, the residents play Bingo and converse fairly easily with each other although confusion still reigns.
Level Three: The Alzheimer’s patient begins to move into the final stages. He will probably forget his family members; she may forget how to speak and how to eat. For the patients, this is not nearly as stressful as Level One, because they don’t care anymore and don’t even know what they’re doing.
This is the most difficult level for the caregiver. Mom or Dad have now become infants, wearing diapers, needing to be fed and dressed. We grieve every day and beg God to take them home.
No matter what level your loved one is in right now, the important point is to take care of yourself, love them however you can and know that someday – no one knows when – someday this Alzheimer’s journey will end.
©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo
Yes. I’ve seen these levels too. Great job putting this in words. Thanks!
Thanks, Cherie. It makes a difference when you’ve lived it. The best writing is based on personal experience.
Interesting. I’ve done some posts of my own about my mother’s Alzheimer’s: https://paulareednancarrow.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?tag=alzheimers. I just came back from a visit home last weekend, and was trying to categorize the changes I saw in my mother. She has always been a very reserved person, and after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis I noticed that her emotions were much more on the surface. She was more open, laughed and cried more easily, and I worried most that she would not understand that she would be hurt by my father’s lack of patience with her, and his apparent inability to fully understand that her forgetting things was not her fault. This time when I was home, at our family reunion, I saw a different side of her – a demanding, fearfulness when she lost sight of him. It was my sister’s house, full of people, and more chaos than she is used to. “I looked all over for you! I couldn’t find you anywhere! I looked three times!” He’d been sitting talking to his brother on the front porch, and not at all difficult to find. The day I left to fly home it was their 59th wedding anniversary. On the way to the airport that morning I wished my mom a Happy Anniversary. She said thank you. I wished my dad a Happy Anniversary. He said thank you. Then he turned to my mother and said, “Happy Anniversary, Dorisanne.” She said…”thank you.” He said, “Now you’re supposed to wish me a Happy Anniversary.” There had been a lot of “supposed tos” that morning. She thought for a moment. “Not yet. Maybe later.” I’m hope it’s been later by now.
Thank you, Paula, for your insights and also for this wonderful anniversary story. It’s so important to see the humor in some of these situations as we all deal with patience and the 36-hour day. Blessings to you and your family as you walk through this Alzheimer’s journey with your mother.