Alzheimer’s stages

Alzheimer’s disease is a diagnosis that strikes fear in the hearts of most people. The older we get, the more frightened we often become when we forget something or perhaps absent-mindedly put something in the wrong place. While we all experience a certain amount of forgetfulness or absent-mindedness, these symptoms are also part of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis so it would benefit many to know what the to watch for in themselves or in a loved one.

This condition is the most common type of dementia diagnosis and is a brain disorder that can severely hinder daily living due to the memory lapses and changes in cognition that occur. Since Alzheimer’s disease is degenerative in nature, the symptoms are progressive as the changes in the brain continue to destroy critical cells that are needed for our memory, reasoning and eventually all bodily functions.

More than 10% of the population over the age of 65 contracts Alzheimer’s disease and in rare cases, certain generic markers can cause early-onset Alzheimer’s before that age. In particular danger are those who have a family history of the disease or any type of dementia. The good news is that there has been a tremendous amount of research done on this condition and great strides have been made in the slowing of the progression. This is why it is so important for everyone to know the warning signs and symptoms in order to get treatment as early as possible.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are ten warning signs of the beginning of the disease. Keep in mind that anyone can experience any of these symptoms at any time – the key is if several signs are occurring and if they are growing in frequency.

These ten signs to watch out for are:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty with familiar tasks
  • language problems
  • time and place disorientation
  • poor judgement
  • difficulty with abstract thought
  • losing items
  • mood or behavior changes
  • personality changes
  • loss of initiative

Keep in mind that these symptoms only count if it is a change in yourself or a loved one. Someone who has always had poor judgement would not be considered as showing a symptom unless it suddenly became much worse.

Depending on which medical professional you speak to, the stages of Alzheimer’s disease may be described as 3 stages, 5 stages or 7 stages. All types of classification systems cover the same symptoms, however. Today we will discuss the 3 stage and 7 stage classifications as they are the most commonly used stage markers.

In 3 stage modality, the first stage is the mild/early phase of Alzheimer’s disease. In the 7 stage modality, this would encompass stages 1 through 4. Symptoms during this early part of the disease would include frequent short term memory lapses – the person may not remember what they had for supper last night, for instance. This can lead to repeating themselves, such as asking questions several times. Since mild trouble with expressing and understanding language also occurs during this stage, this symptom could come from either of these. Those in the early/mild progression of the disease will also often start exhibiting sharp personality changes and sometimes become depressed or apathetic. A certain amount of this is from the fear of what is happening to them and a part of it is the disease process itself.

The second stage of Alzheimer’s disease is the moderate/middle stage (stage 5-6 in the 7 stage modality). At this stage, there is no possibility of covering up the problems that have shown up. The affected person will need assistance with daily activities and will no longer be able to function alone. The majority of those in this stage of the disease will have emotional or behavioral issues which tend to worsen with stress or even changes in routine. Disorientation to time and place becomes much more pervasive and at this stage wandering is common.

By the third of the Alzheimer’s stages (stage 6-7 on the 7 stage modality), the sufferer is completely confused and cannot distinguish past from present. They will no longer be able to recognize people or places and become completely unable to care for themselves. At some point within this period, the person loses verbal skills and begins to lose the ability to do previously involuntary tasks such as swallowing. They almost always become incontinent and the behavioral issues escalate severely. With this stage, the bodily systems begin to fail and ultimately, the patient will die – usually from pneumonia or a secondary infection.

[quote|tags=Neuro-Natural General]

Last updated on Mar 2nd, 2010 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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