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