By Cami Tesch, Student Nurse

College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh


Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimer’s and dementia are often used interchangeably. However, think of dementia as a big umbrella with categories underneath it. Alzheimer’s is one of those categories. Dementia is characterized by memory decline, while Alzheimer’s is decreased cognitive ability caused by increased plaques and cell death in the brain.

It was reported that in 2020, 120,000 cases of Alzheimer’s were diagnosed in Wisconsin. There is early onset Alzheimer’s, but the older adult population (65+) is the most common age group to be diagnosed. It is also more common in women rather than men.

How do I know if my loved one is experiencing Alzheimer’s or just common aging characteristics?

There are characteristics of aging that could be mistaken for Alzheimer’s. For example, a common characteristic of aging may be to forget where an object is placed, but remember a couple of hours later. A characteristic of Alzheimer’s is placing an object in the completely wrong place, such as milk in the cupboard instead of the fridge, and not remembering it. Another characteristic of Alzheimer’s would be confusion over a simple conversation. Alzheimer’s tends to progress through stages to where, eventually, a person cannot remember or perform typical daily activities.

What are the stages of Alzheimer’s?

Stage 1: Early Stage (Mild)

In the beginning stage, individuals may still be continuing on with their daily lives. They, along with those close to them, may be noticing slight delays in their memory. It isn’t a huge change but there are some instances such as misplacing an object used daily, getting slightly confused in a conversation, and forgetting a few names here and there.

Stage 2: Middle Stage (Moderate)

This is typically the longest stage in patients with Alzheimer’s. This stage is more prominent to those around the individual. The patient is becoming more forgetful and confused. You may find your loved one wandering around. They may get lost in the house trying to find a specific room. Incontinence or having accidents may become more common. Someone at this stage may need to be watched a little more carefully.

Stage 3: Late Stage (Severe)

This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s progression. While in this stage, the individual will need constant care. They will most likely need to be fed, need total assistance when using the bathroom, and need partial or total help with all daily activities. Confusion is at its peak, there is an increased risk for falls and wandering.

Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are many treatments to help with memory decline and behavior. A physician may be able to prescribe medications for memory decline, mood, sleep disturbances and behavior. There are medications to help, but it is still very important to make some lifestyle changes. For example:

  • Keep the same bed time every night.
  • Do not eat dinner right before bed.
  • Make sure the environment is calming and a comfortable temperature.

Caregiver Burnout

Caring for a loved one on a daily basis puts a lot of stress on the caregiver and their relationships. Respite care can be an amazing resource for caregivers to take times for themselves. There are many care resources within the community that want to help, which will help not only you, but also your relationship with your loved one.


All links below provide excellent resources on facts of Alzheimer’s and support programs:


Wisconsin family caregiver support programs. (2021). Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Retrieved from:

Alzheimer’s and dementia. (2021). Alzheimer’s Association. Retrieved from:

Normal ageing vs dementia. (2021). Alzheimer’s Society. Retrieved from: