Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia that can be devastating to not only the patient, but the family that surrounds them. It is a neurodegenerative disease, which destroys brain matter. As it progresses, the patient starts to lost memories and personality traits over time, as the brain is being broken down. Typically, memory loss is the first sign of cognitive decline. According to the CDC website, some signs of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Memory loss that causes serious interruption of life, such as getting lost in familiar places or asking the same question more than once.
- Paying bills becomes difficult.
- Decreased judgment.
- Trouble performing regular tasks at work and home.
- Misplacing things and the inability to retrace steps.
- Changes in personality or behavior.
Stages of Alzheimer’s
As a progressive disease, those inflicted with Alzheimer’s can live on average four to eight years, but some have been known to live up to 20 years. The Alzheimer’s Association breaks down the progression of this disease into three different stages. These stages help loved one understand what to expect as the disease progresses:
- Early Stage (Mild)- In the early stages, the person can still function independently, continuing to work, drive, and partake in normal actives with mild issues. They show signs of the disease with memory loss. This can be forgetting words or losing items. This is when family members start to notice a problem and bring their loved ones to a doctor for diagnosis.
- Middle State (Moderate)- The moderate stage is the longest stage, where the symptoms start to create more issues in everyday life. This is when the person will need a caregiver to step in to help. During this stage they will have trouble performing tasks such as paying bills and driving. They will often times become frustrated and act in ways that are not normal for them. You will find that they might still have ability to recall many significant details about their life in the past.
- Late Stage (Severe)- In the late stage of the disease, the symptoms reach a pinnacle. The patient can lose the ability to converse, control their movement, and respond to the environment. Doing everyday actives can be near impossible on their own and their personality will be significantly different. At this point, they will need constant care.
It is important to note that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and the damage that it does to the brain is irreversible; however there is treatment that can help slow it down. This is why early detection is important. Managing the disease can help improve quality of life for those living with it, as well as their caregiver.
As someone who has had firsthand experience with a loved one with dementia, I know how painful it can be to watch someone struggle with it. Scientists are still looking for a way to cure this disease and they can use all the help they can get. You can help end this disease by donating to The Alzheimer’s Association.