Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that affects parts of the brain controlling thought, memory, and language. The condition in its advanced stages can affect a person’s daily routine in a severe manner completely limiting their ability to function without external help. There is no known cause of Alzheimer’s and the risk of developing the condition is high in people above the age of sixty.
Note that the progressive nature of the condition makes age one of the primary risk factors. Studies show that Alzheimer’s can also develop due to changes in genetics. Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss, changes in mood and personality, behavioral changes, decreased judgment, and difficulty in completing normal tasks.
Alzheimer’s is broadly classified into three stages depending on the severity of the symptoms as detailed below:
The severity of symptoms in the early stages is quite low and does not necessarily affect one’s personal routine. Minor memory lapses in the early stages are usually nothing more than occasionally forgetting familiar words or the location of objects around one’s workplace or house. Other common difficulties in the early stages of Alzheimer’s include problems with planning and organizing, misplacing a valuable object, and forgetting any material read recently. One might also face challenges while performing tasks in a work setting or social environment. In certain cases, a person can have trouble remembering the names of new people or even have some trouble coming up with new names.
In most cases, the moderate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the middle stages last for many years. The progressive nature of the condition increases the intensity of the symptoms in this stage. It is not uncommon for a person suffering from the condition to become forgetful and fail to remember things from their own past. Behavioral changes include feeling moody or withdrawn from one’s surroundings and activities. It also becomes difficult for the person to cope and manage in challenging social situations. One might face difficulty in recalling their own address or telephone number and forget personal details like the year or college they graduated from indicating advanced memory loss.
The symptoms of the progressive condition are far more severe as people will lose the ability to interact or respond to their surroundings. Doctors recommend round the clock care for people in the late stages to assist in daily activities and for personal care. Loss of memory and cognitive skills can render the person vulnerable to their surrounding making it difficult for them to manage even some of the basic tasks in one’s routine. People will also experience physical changes that will affect their ability to walk and sit. Speech impairment is another problem in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s affecting one’s overall communication. The immune system is also vulnerable to infections and the risk of suffering from pneumonia is high in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
The severity of the progression will vary widely depending on the patient. The survival rate for people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s varies in the range of three to eleven years. People have also survived for more than twenty years with specialized care.