Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative, progressive brain condition characterized by declines in cognitive functioning such as memory, critical thinking skills, and the ability to perform tasks. Because memory loss is a normal effect of aging, it’s often easy to mistake early signs of Alzheimer’s for forgetfulness.
What is the FAST Scale?
A scale that describes the decline of an Alzheimer’s patient’s cognitive functioning is called the Functional Assessment Staging (FAST) scale. Dr. Barry Reisberg, director of the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Research Program at New York University Langone Health, developed the concept.
The FAST scale describes seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The following is the characteristics of each stage:
No impairment. At this stage there is no memory problem or any symptoms present.
Very mild decline. A person shows the usual mild mental decline of old age. They have an awareness of this change. They forget names or occasionally misplace objects like car keys.
Mild decline. Close friends and family members can notice a cognitive decline. Difficulty concentrating and carrying conversations are another common progression.
Moderate decline. At this stage, a person’s Alzheimer’s disease may become more noticeable. Loved ones may note them losing interest in work and social situations, forgetting people they’ve recently met, or being disorganized in a way that is uncharacteristic to them. They also have a decreased ability to perform common tasks like managing finances or paying bills.
Moderate severe decline. A person at this stage won’t be able to function independently and needs a caregiver to some extent. They remember personal histories such as childhood and youth years. Their short-term memory is very limited-to-none, and they may repeat the same question more than once within minutes.
Severe decline. A person at this stage needs constant supervision and requires professional care. Confusion or unawareness of their environment and surroundings is common. They will also show major gaps in memory and experience significant cognitive decline. They might need help with most, if not all, activities of daily living such as dressing, toileting, and showering. Some patients may also wander because of their past memory of where they used to live.
Very severe decline. The disease is a terminal illness. At this stage, a person is nearing death. They are not able to communicate verbally and lose their physical abilities such as swallowing.
Who can help me or my loved one at home?
According to the Alzheimer’s association, approximately 5 million Americans are living with the disease currently, and it is expected to grow to 12 million by the year 2030.
Integrity Care and Staffing provides professional and caring caregivers to keep your loved one comfortable at home.
Contact us today to learn about the assistance we provide.