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When Alzheimer’s Symptoms Take a Turn for the Worse: Here’s Why

younger woman in pink shirt comforting senior man with Alzheimer’s symptoms
When Alzheimer’s symptoms take a turn for the worse all of a sudden, there are some common causes that need to be addressed.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was an Alzheimer’s care manual, with step-by-step information on what to anticipate at each and every stage of the disease? While there are several general commonalities in the progression of dementia, each person’s experience is unique. This makes it hard to know what to anticipate on any given day.

Even with the unpredictability of Alzheimer’s disease, there are particular situations which are beyond the normal array of expectations to watch for. One of the most concerning is when Alzheimer’s symptoms take a turn for the worse all of a sudden. This could occur for many different reasons:

  • Disruption to normal routine from a change in caregivers, move, hospitalization, etc.
  • Sundowning
  • Delirium, brought about by an infection, hospital stay or surgery, medication side effects, insufficient sleep, dehydration, or possibly even constipation
  • Stroke or a brain injury, such as from a fall
  • An underlying illness such as cancer or prion disease

What Are the Typical Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, and as of now, incurable. Therefore, a decline in condition is to be expected. A sudden shift in the person’s condition, however, is atypical. In general, the disease progresses through the following stages:

  • Early: The first detectable signs of Alzheimer’s are typically very mild, including short-term memory lapses, forgetting a word, or getting lost.
  • Middle: In the middle stage of the disease, cognitive challenges progress to the point that the individual struggles with independently performing activities of daily living.
  • Late: The final stage of Alzheimer’s, which may take years to reach, involves a lack of response and recognition of both people and environment, as the body begins to shut down.

If You Notice Sudden Worsening of Dementia…

Seek medical assistance immediately if an abrupt decline is noted so that the cause can be pinpointed and addressed.

A dementia care journal is often an extremely helpful tool, before, during, and after worsening symptoms. Daily journaling will allow you to keep track of:

  • What works and what does not work in helping the individual manage challenges
  • Any challenging behaviors noted, with particulars on time of day and potential triggers or contributing circumstances
  • Sleeping and eating habits
  • Medications taken and any side effects detected
  • The person’s overall demeanor on any given day

These kinds of details will be crucial in helping to patch together what happened when Alzheimer’s symptoms take a turn for the worse abruptly.

Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s caregivers in Battle Creek, Paw Paw, St. Joseph, and the surrounding areas are specially trained and skilled in caring for people who have dementia and detecting any changes in condition. Call us at (866) 229-2505 and let us walk beside you on your dementia care journey.

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