The Five A’s of Alzheimer’s

April 25, 2024

Alzheimer's disease is a difficult condition—not just because it wreaks havoc on body, mind, and family, but because it’s ever-evolving. Today’s symptoms may be gone tomorrow, and tomorrow usually brings a brand-new challenge. But despite the shape-shifting, there are five common traits that show up in people with Alzheimer’s. These disabilities are known as the five A’s. Understanding them won’t cure dementia, but it can help prepare you for the twists and overall Alzheimer's care.


Amnesia is memory loss that often begins with short-term memories; as dementia progresses, long-term memory loss also becomes noticeable. As memories deteriorate, so does the ability to absorb new information. Amnesia is not the same as the forgetfulness that comes with advanced age. For example, misplacing a wallet could be attributed to age-related memory loss. But putting that wallet in the freezer is probably amnesia.

How to Help 

People with amnesia aren’t being willfully forgetful and they aren’t necessarily hard of hearing—they simply can’t retain information. Speak slowly, clearly, and simply when communicating with someone struggling with this aspect of dementia.


Aphasia means difficulty communicating. It can affect the way a person with Alzheimer's symptoms speaks and/or processes information. 

When speaking, aphasia may manifest as word substitution (calling a “bowl” a “cup,” for example) or word generalization (asking for “that thing” instead of “that magazine”). It can also show up as nonsense words, repeating the same sounds over and over, or mixing up sounds within a word. 

When receiving information, people experiencing aphasia may hear only part of what’s being communicated, answer incorrectly because they don’t understand, or simply nod to cover their confusion. They also may avoid crowded situations where sounds become overwhelming and indistinguishable. 

How to Help 

• Give your loved one a chance to respond even if it seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time. 

• Don’t say as much. Simplify your message. 

• Avoid vague questions. Use straightforward language with clear choices.  look for effective Alzheimer's treatment

DON’T SAY: What do you feel like doing today? 

DO SAY: Would you like to visit the library or go for a drive today? 


Apraxia refers to a loss of motor skills that occurs because the person with Alzheimer’s forgets basic movements and activities—essentially, the brain and the muscles aren’t communicating. Opting for Alzheimer's home care will help the patient to a great extent. Apraxia commonly affects daily activities like bathing, dressing, walking, and eating. It can also affect speech. 

How to Help 

• Be very clear when providing instructions, breaking them down into small steps. 

• Avoid distractions. 

• You may need to demonstrate a task repeatedly before the person with apraxia can perform it. 

• Take a break to avoid distress for you and your loved one. 

• People with apraxia are at a higher risk of falling. Stay vigilant, and make sure the home is free of clutter and has grab bars for bathing and toileting. 


A particularly heartbreaking—and common—disability in connection with Alzheimer's stages is agnosia. Agnosia causes difficulty recognizing familiar objects, places, and people. For the loved one of someone with dementia, it can be devastating not to be remembered. For the person with agnosia, it can be embarrassing and disorienting. 

How to Help 

• Since the person affected is unable to connect objects to their usage, it can help to use gestures. So, instead of saying, “Brush your hair,” you might gesture to the brush and demonstrate your request. 

• Think ahead: Place shoes next to socks, the appropriate utensil in the hand, etc., to encourage correct usage. 

• Label common objects, rooms, and people in photographs. 

• Make sure your loved one always carries identification. 


When a person with Alzheimer’s struggles to find the right word, it is called anomia. Usually, they’ll know what the object is and what it’s used for but can’t come up with its label. 

How to Help 

Anomia can be frustrating for loved ones and caregivers. Try to remember that it will take longer for the person to communicate. 

How FSHN can help you

In FSHN, we recognize the distinct challenges individuals and families face when dealing with Alzheimer's disease treatment. FSHN can play a crucial role in aiding Alzheimer's prevention and management through Cognitive Stimulation and Emotional and Social Support. By doing so, we can significantly advance brain health, enhance quality of life, and ultimately combat the profound impact of Alzheimer's disease.

In navigating the complexities of Alzheimer’s, patience is fundamental. Your loved one's memory lapses and difficulties with tasks are not deliberate actions but rather a result of changes in their cognitive function. While all aspects of the condition can be distressing, they are part of the evolving journey of Alzheimer’s. It's important to remain composed and seek assistance when necessary. We are here to provide effective Alzheimer's prevention and management throughout this challenging journey.

At FSHN, we strive to ensure that each day is a positive experience for individuals with dementia.

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