Alzheimer’s disease starts with mild symptoms that gradually worsen over time and interfere with daily life.
In the next stage, the patient may notice small changes in their behavior like forgetting words, places, or something as simple as misplacing things.
These symptoms do not interfere with the patient’s ability to do things independently. Most of them consider these as normal signs of aging and ignore them.
In the next stage, more noticeable changes include:
Forgetfulness, especially something which is just read or learned
Repeatedly asking the same questions
Difficulty planning and organizing
Difficulty remembering names and people
As the disease progresses, moderate decline in intellectual ability becomes more noticeable.
In this stage, patients may forget their own information, and have trouble remembering what month or year it is. Even cooking or ordering from a menu is hard for the patient.
Moderate, severe and very severe decline
With a moderately severe decline in the cognitive abilities, patients may lose track of location and time.
He/she may not be able to remember their address or phone number.
With a severe decline of mental abilities, it is normal for them to mistake a person for somebody else. Delusions are common at this stage. They may also need help in using the washroom.
Very severe decline is characterized by difficulty in every routine activity like eating, walking, and even sitting.
They become more and more dependent on others for all their activities.
A combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors are the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
In some cases, specific gene mutations are associated with this disease. It is a neurodegenerative disease in which the brain cells degenerate over a period of time.
Two types of abnormalities are characteristic:
Plaques – accumulation of the protein beta-amyloid results in the formation of small clumps in the brain. This buildup is known as plaque and is considered to be one of the causes for the death of brain cells. They also affect the communication of nerve cells.
Tangles – twisted fibers of another protein called tau also build up inside the brain cells. The abnormal structure of the proteins affect the support and transport of nutrients through the nerve cells. This structure is also considered to be associated with the death of neurons.
The major risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease are:
Age – the risk of this disease is high after the age of 65 years. After 60 years, the chance of dementia doubles. People with genetic mutations may have an early onset of the disease.
Family history – higher risk is linked to family history of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly if any immediate family members have Alzheimer’s. Gene mutations are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Down’s syndrome – patients with Down’s syndrome have an increased chance of developing dementia due to Alzheimer’s. The symptoms develop 10-20 years sooner than normal people.
Sex – it is more common among women as they tend to live longer than men.
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