Does Your Loved One Have Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive condition that impairs an individual's memory, reasoning, language, and perception. Alzheimer's commonly develops around the age of 85 years. After a proper diagnosis, Alzheimer's becomes steadily worse over time. There is no complete cure for this disease; however, appropriate treatment will help to improve the quality of life for patients who need it. Click through this slideshow to see if your loved one has any of the signs or symptoms of Alzheimer's so that you can help him or her receive proper treatment.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is known to slowly and gradually develop in an individual, and as time passes, the disease tends to worsen. This degenerative condition is known to mostly cause an impact on the brain of the individual, due to which there are many things that tend to be affected, and those are having issues with solving problems, loss of memory, thinking problems, and trouble with judgement and language. Movement is also known to become affected due to the disease. Alzheimer’s essentially has five different stages, and they are comprised of the preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, the mild cognitive impairment caused due to the disease, a mild form of dementia caused due to the disease, a moderate form of dementia caused due to Alzheimer’s, and lastly, a severe form of dementia caused due to the disease. Dementia is basically a term that is used to describe the group of symptoms that can affect the intellectual as well as social abilities of an individual. It is known to have a severe negative impact that can also lead to an interference in the daily tasks of the individual. The five stages of this disease, which are mentioned above, are known to help one understand what can happen with Alzheimer’s, hence, it can prove to be of some help in certain cases when someone close to you is suffering from this disease. These stages are said to be rough generalizations and may not always apply to all individuals. Alzheimer’s disease is said to be a continuous process, and its symptoms along with its severity can vary from person to person.
Let us have a look at the various stages of this disease:
Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease: This disease is known to start long before one can begin to identify the symptoms or for the symptoms to become apparent themselves. This stage is known to be the preclinical form of Alzheimer’s disease. One may not notice the symptoms very clearly at this particular stage, and neither may the ones who are around the individual. This first stage of the disease is known to last for years and, at times, it can last for decades, with the symptoms going completely unnoticed. Nowadays, there are a lot of newer forms of technology, such as imaging technologies, which are known to be helpful in identifying the protein deposits which are called amyloid beta. These are said to be one of the hallmarks of this disease. It is very important to identify these protein deposits as early as possible since the newer form of treatments that are available for this disease can prove to be of some help for the individual in managing their symptoms. There are also additional biomarkers which are known to measure if there is an increased risk for this disease. These kinds of biomarkers are helpful in identifying as well as acting as a support in diagnosing the disease, mostly after the symptoms have become evident. Genetic tests are also available to check if the individual is at a high risk of getting this disease, mostly at the beginning of the disease.
Mild cognitive impairment caused due to the disease: Those individuals who are suffering from a mild form of cognitive impairment or weakness can start to experience mild changes in their memory as well as their ability to think. However, any of these changes appearing in the individual is not significant enough to cause any kind of effect on the relationship or work life of the individual. Those who are at this stage may come across a mild case of memory lapse. Hence, in terms of information that can be remembered easily, such individuals would take time to recollect that information, which may include any recent events, conversations that happened recently, or any appointments scheduled. Those individuals who are at this stage may tend to also have difficulty judging the amount of time that is required for a particular task, or they can also have difficulty accurately judging the correct sequence of steps that are required to complete a certain task. But one cannot say that everyone who suffers from mild cognitive impairment has Alzheimer’s disease.
Mild dementia caused due to the disease: Alzheimer’s disease is known to be diagnosed here at this mild dementia stage. This is the time when it would become clear to the family members, friends, or close relatives that the individual is having some kind of trouble with their memory and their thinking power, due to which their daily functioning is significantly affected. Below are some of the symptoms that the individual may experience at this stage:
- Memory loss concerning recent events: By the time the individual progresses to this stage, they would have a hard time remembering any newly learned information and, hence, would ask the same questions over and over again.
- Finding it difficult to solve problems or any kind of complex task: Individuals often find it difficult to carry out any kind of complex task, or there could be a lapse in judgement, mostly when it includes carrying out financial decisions.
- Inability to organize as well as express one’s thoughts: It often becomes a challenge for the individual to express their thoughts as well as they used to previously; they find difficulty in speaking the right words during a conversation.
- Misplacing any items or tending to lose items easily: Most of the time, the individual would have a hard time finding their way out of places, even when they have been to the same location several times in the past. It becomes quite common for them to misplace items, which can also include valuable items.
Moderate dementia due to the disease: At this stage, the individual becomes very confused and often forgets things. They would need more help to carry out daily activities, which can also include their own routine tasks. Below are some of the symptoms the individual may experience at this stage:
- Deep confusion and poor judgement: The individual tends to lose track of where they are, what time of day it is, or what season it is. They can also confuse members of the family, friends, or close relatives with each other. They may even mistakenly identify strangers as family members. Even in familiar surroundings, they can wander about, not sure of where to go.
- Severe memory loss: At this point, the individual may tend to forget their own personal history, which can include their phone number, address, which school they attended, and also any important dates. Hence, they often tend to repeat or make up certain stories so as to fill in those memory gaps.
- Significant changes in behavior or personality: The individual will start to act in a suspicious nature. One such example of this is they may come to believe that their friends or family members are stealing from them.
Severe dementia due to the disease: During the later stage of this disease, there is a significant decline in the mental functioning of the individual, and this disease is now known to progress rapidly, thereby impacting their physical capabilities as well as mental functioning. A few of the symptoms associated with this stage include: they are no longer able to converse or speak properly, but they can speak a few words or phrases; they would need help with day-to-day self-care; they would need assistance with walking, dressing up, eating food; and they would be unable to sit down or hold their head up without support. The muscles tend to become rigid as well.