There are many questions people have when it comes to Alzheimer's disease. What causes the disease? Can it be prevented? How is this disease diagnosed? It is hard to know everything about the disease but this article helps break down certain aspects of it.
With the Alzheimer's disease, it slowly progresses through three different main stages- mild (early), moderate (middle) and severe (late). Since Alzheimer's is different with every person diagnosed, they can all experience different symptoms at different times. Some may progress rapidly and others may live with the disease for up to 20 years. With the symptoms worsening over time, it is important to enjoy each day with your loved one and not let the disease ruin your time together.
Changes in the brain due to the disease happen years before any symptoms start occurring. This is called the preclinical Alzheimer's disease which can last for many years for a person. You will not be able to notice any changes nor will those around you. The only way that you will be able to identify Alzheimer's at this stage is with imaging technology. By being able to identify this early could help with new treatments that are being discovered with Alzheimer's.
Mild Alzheimer's Disease (Early-Stage)
This is the beginning stage of Alzheimer's where the person can still have a regular life and function independently. A person will still attend work, social gatherings, family dinners and still able to drive. Friends and family will begin to notice their loved ones forgetting familiar words or location of everyday objects around the house. People with MCI may have memory lapses when it comes to information that is usually easily remembered, such as conversations, recent events or appointments.
Common difficulties at this stage could include problems coming up with the right words, a hard time remembering names, difficulty performing tasks at work or home, or trouble organizing and planning activities.
Moderate Alzheimer's Disease (Middle- Stage)
This stage usually lasts the longest for the patient and may last for many years. As this stage continues to progress, it will get to the point where they will need a greater amount of care. A person within this stage will start confusing words, acting in unexpected ways, or becoming frustrated and angry toward themselves or others. There is also damage to nerve cells happening in the brain. During the moderate stage of Alzheimer's, people grow more confused and forgetful and begin to need help with daily activities and self-care.
Some noticeable symptoms are forgetfulness of ones history or own telephone number, changes in sleep patterns, confusion about what day it is or where they are, or a high risk for wandering and becoming lost. They will also need help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and grooming.
Severe Alzheimer's Disease (Late-Stage)
This is the final stage of the three. Within this stage, they lose the ability to carry a conversation, respond to their environment properly, and control movement. As their cognitive skills and memory worsens, their personality changes and they require help with daily activities. At this stage, they may still be able to communicate but communicating their pain to someone becomes difficult for them. In the severe stage of Alzheimer's, mental function continues to decline and the disease has a growing impact on movement and physical capabilities.
They will require around-the-clock help with personal care. They will also lose awareness of surroundings and experiences, become more vulnerable to infections and require high level of help with activities. Their physical ability will also decline, they will have trouble walking, sitting and eventually swallowing. A person may become unable to walk without assistance, then unable to sit or hold up his or her head without support. Muscles may become rigid and reflexes abnormal. Eventually, a person loses the ability to swallow and to control bladder and bowel functions.
This is a difficult disease to accept and it is effecting so many people across the world and there are few answers to our questions. It makes it easier to accept Alzheimer's disease if you understand the disease and its impact on your loved ones. Just know that you are not alone when battling or helping someone battle this disease. There are so many useful resources out there to assist you with this disease.
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