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ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

According to the website for the Alzheimer's Association, there are 7 stages in the development of this disease.

Stage 1 is really a baseline and represents normal functioning. In Stage 2 - there is evidence of mild cognitive decline, but at this point, even medical professionals are not able to definitively diagnose the disease. At this stage, there may be some minor forgetfulness about nouns or location of objects. However, this could be part of the normal aging process.

Stage 3 is when more symptoms appear. Yet, even at this stage, a definitive diagnosis can be made only some of the time. Some of the signs that begin to manifest themselves during this stage are: more frequent problems with word retrieval of objects and new people's names, forgetting information that one has just read about, mild confusion in social and work settings, and the beginning of trouble with planning and organizing in general. This stage is characterized as mild cognitive decline.

Stage 4 represents a moderate cognitive decline and could be characterized as the first point in which a medical professional can diagnose the disorder. Family members, too, at this stage will begin to notice a decline in their loved one's functioning. This stage is distinguished by things such as: forgetting recent events, inability of performing mental arithmetic such as counting backwards from 100 by 6's, increased difficulty in carrying out events of daily living like planning meals and paying bills, forgetting things about one's own life, or becoming withdrawn or quiet in new and unfamiliar social situations.

In Stage 5 (moderately severe cognitive decline), the individual with Alzheimer's will begin to need assistance with daily activities. He/she will be uncertain of the day of the week and where they are. They may need help in choosing what clothing to select depending on the occasion or season. However, they still should be able to eat and use the toilet without assistance. At this stage begins the inability to recall vital information such as one's address or telephone number.

In Stage 6 (severe cognitive decline), all the characteristics of Stage 5 are more severe and frequent. The forgetfulness increases to the point where faces are remembered but not names, even when they are a spouse or caregiver. Assistance is needed in dressing. If not, the individual is likely to dress inappropriately by putting outer wear over pajamas, etc. There may be changes in sleep patterns and/or personality and behavioral changes. In addition, there is the tendency to wander or get lost. Therefore, this stage represents the stage at which constant supervision is required.

In Stage 7 (very severe cognitive decline), the individual, in addition to further cognitive decline, loses physical capabilities as well. They may no longer be able to smile, to sit without support, to hold one's head up, to walk, or even to swallow. Frequently, there is no longer the ability to speak or attend to one's personal needs independently. This is the final stage which can last months and even years.

While Alzheimer's Disease is not something one would choose, it is helpful to know what the stages are, so appropriate planning can be made. The attorneys and staff at The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm are experts in the area of long-term care planning and care of the elderly and /or disabled. Establishing a trust may be one way to finance the care of a relative with Alzheimer's.

In any case, advice is given on an individual basis considering the unique circumstances of each person in order to maximize and protect their assets. (Information taken from www.alz.org)


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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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