What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) can simply be described as a form of dementia. It is a disease that complicates the brain, making memory and everyday functions of the brain much more difficult. Alzheimer’s Disease was first identified in 1906 by German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer. The disease has progressed to much more than just a diagnosis. The people who suffer from this disease go through many stages. It is not just a disease that affects the person diagnosed, but also the people that surround them.
Causes & Diagnosis
Simply put, Alzheimer’s is caused by an aging brain. Many factors affect how a brain will age. Genetically Alzheimer’s can be passed through generations. Symptoms that increase the risk of developing AD, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease and even high blood pressure are being found to have a correlation with AD.
Diagnosis can be difficult to recognize at first. Patients that develop a form of dementia, such as memory loss, must go through tests to confirm that AD is the correct diagnosis. Alzheimer’s Disease is a slow progressing disease. It can take long spans of time to fully diagnose and therefore control a person’s life.
Pre-dementia is also referred to as stage 1 of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is recognized in patients that are having specific troubles of memory loss. Pre-dementia can also cause mild effects on abstract thinking skills, planning and attentiveness.
A patient can be experiencing symptoms of pre-dementia for many years before they are 100% diagnosed with AD. By then the patient can develop a more severe form of dementia that can impair their way of living, thus moving the patient from stage 1 to stage 2.
Early Alzheimer’s, also known as Early-onset Alzheimer’s, affects people under the age of 65. It is most common when genetics are the main factor when developing AD. Many cases of Early-onset Alzheimer’s are seen when the patient’s parents or grandparents had developed AD early in life as well.
Making this stage 2 in the progression of AD, Early-onset Alzheimer’s is much more severe than dementia. The symptom of memory loss is still there, however intensified. Most people that develop Early-onset AD will find more frequent interruptions to their everyday life. They start to forget full conversations, their brain has trouble recalling common vocabulary, and they can withdraw from usual interests.
Moderate Alzheimer’s is the level of AD where the patient can no longer live without assistance. All aspects of life change within this stage. People who have moderate Alzheimer’s now have chronic memory loss. They are beginning to forget their personal history and even friends and family are becoming unrecognizable.
This stage of AD can be very stressful. Making the necessary changes for the patient’s life may be difficult, and even cause aggression. The unusual behavior and changes in mood are actually quite common. It is important that patients keep structure and have reminders to complete their daily tasks.
Advanced Alzheimer’s is the last stage of AD. In this stage, the patient encounters very high levels of confusion. Their past and present history does not make sense, and their level of communication skills is now very limited. If speech is still functioning it may not be clear or understandable.
The patient now needs 24-7 supervision, and as unrecognizable their life is to them, the patient may be unrecognizable to a family member. In this degree of disease, it can be difficult to find a persons original personality. Mood and behavior are completely changed. It is best that they have steady support and care to aid them through this difficult time.
Unfortunately, there is no current cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Treatment can and should start as soon as symptoms of dementia begin. Treatment can be as simple as planning. For the patient, it is best they get prepared for the future by making important decisions while they still have the mental capacity to do so.
Working with family members and staying positive will help the transition through stages. Just as with any other disease it is important to keep good health. By following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise you can help your body stay healthy in other areas.
For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease, the stages, and how to cope with the inevitable changes, follow the links below.
Understanding the Stages of Alzheimer’s – The Breakdown: Stages 1-7 of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Healthy Acceptance of an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis – Basic information to help you plan your future.
Alzheimer’s Association – The place for all Alzheimer’s Disease questions.
Finding the Right Health Care – Alzheimer’s Disease has a medical cost, make sure you have the right insurance and health care options today.
Alzheimer’s Disease- The Review – Information about Origin, Causes, Diagnosis and Prevention.
Alzheimer’s Symptom Test – Use the Memory Checklist and check your score! Are your symptoms signs of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s Behavior Management – Managing common symptoms and problems.
Alzheimer’s Disease – PubMed Health explanations and definitions.
Alzheimer’s Disease Statistics – Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The FastStats on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s Research for a Cure - Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery