One of the fears of getting older is potentially suffering from a cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s. Adults as young as 35 run the risk of cognitive decline, suffering from diseases including Alzheimer’s. The frightening thing is, many people don’t know they even have the disease in the early stages.
Can you pinpoint the early stages of Alzheimer’s through clinical trials? What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease? Is it preventable? In this article, we will give you the progression and symptoms of this rapidly growing brain disease.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is the continued deterioration of the brain. It causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavioral patterns.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease. This means that nerve cells have fewer connections, which cause brain cell death. Over time, the loss of brain cells progresses causing memory loss and other abnormal brain dysfunctions.
Facts about Alzheimer’s Disease
It’s important to know the facts about the onset of Alzheimer’s and the disease itself for these key reasons:
- possible prevention
- to help a loved one
- possible risks of the disease
- to understand it better
- Alzheimer’s can affect adults as young as age 35.
- Surprisingly, more women suffer from Alzheimer’s than men.
- Some adults aged 85 and over suffer from Alzheimer’s.
- Most people who suffer from severe cognitive decline don’t know they are suffering from Alzheimer’s.
- It can affect your ability to speak.
- Cognitive impairment can disrupt your ability to work and have a normal life.
- Through the progression of Alzheimer’s to the latter stages, you won’t be able to recognize familiar faces such as family and friends.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.
- Heart disease such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure are closely related to the cause of Alzheimer’s.
- The complete loss of sense of smell (not caused by a sinus or nasal congestion) can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
Mild Early Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Like many types of cognitive-related dysfunction, it’s difficult to identify the symptoms correctly, especially in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Usually, the symptoms are so severe they cause problems with normal day-to-day activities.
Patients who experience early stages of Alzheimer’s may suffer from the following symptoms of memory loss:
- Misplacing items
- Difficulty recalling names or certain words
- Repeating questions
- Losing train of thought mid-sentence
- Difficulty learning something new
- Getting lost on familiar routes to the store, home or work
- Forgetting special events
- Repetitive conversations
Rapid changes in mood can also be an early warning sign; however, this can be caused by other mental illnesses, too, so never assume the worst. Instead, talk to your doctor about any of the following:
- Sudden mood swings
- Problems with depression
- Lack of interest in new activities
In some cases, Alzheimer’s can cause a mild speech impediment such as:
- Slower speech
- Mild stuttering
- Talking incoherently
Moderate Middle Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
At the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s, patients start to show more severe signs of change in behavioral patterns. These are characterized by different mood swings, changes in humor, and apathy.
Impaired Reasoning Skills
Alzheimer’s patients may not be able to take part in any major decision making as their reasoning skills begin to deteriorate:
- Lack of understanding of safety
- Unable to manage their finances
- Rash decision making
- Inability to plan activities or follow a routine
Inability to Read or Write
Moderate warning signs include problems with the ability to read and write. This can also include the following:
- Difficulty remembering basic words
- Spelling errors
- More prone to scribble
- Ability to hold a pen or pencil becomes more difficult
Severe Late Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
An Alzheimer’s patient will show major changes in their personality during the later stages of Alzheimer’s. The symptoms from the first and second stages have worsened over time & result in the inability to care for oneself.
Visuospatial perception is the human ability to understand spatial reasoning through visual observation. Alzheimer’s sufferers will start to show a deficit in this area such as:
- The inability to recognize familiar faces
- Not able to recognize certain objects
- Severe alexia which is the inability to read texts
Late stages of Alzheimer’s include the inability to communicate effectively:
- Conversing is difficult
- Lack of understanding of what is being spoken about
- Not able to express sentences correctly
- Speaking incoherently
Lack of Motor Skills
Alzheimer’s causes a major change in motor skills and patients may not be able to do basic activities:
- Inability to walk
- Difficulty writing
- Problems with picking up light objects
- Unable to feed oneself
- Difficulty getting in and out of bed
- Loss of the ability to keep one’s head up
- May not be able to swallow food and beverages correctly
- Unable to hold objects for extended periods of time
Other Major Symptoms
There are other areas of Alzheimer’s disease that affect cognitive performance with the most common being the complete deterioration of the brain. At this point, the patient is now more prone to other diseases. Some major late-stage symptoms include the following:
- Prone to the flu or pneumonia
- Erratic sleeping patterns
- Difficulty sleeping
- Over time, the patient may be bound to a wheelchair
- Loss of awareness
- Hostile and aggressive behavior
- Wandering around aimlessly
- Repetitive behavior
Though there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s that will cure the disease, there are ways that you can prolong the stages of the disease when you’ve been diagnosed professionally. However, taking care of your mental well being when you’re younger may reduce the risk of the disease, so it’s worth taking note of the facts no matter how old you are.
Taking part in brain-stimulating activities and eating healthily can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease from developing later on in life. Increasing your brain function every day by reading books and planning more outdoor activities can help stimulate the mind and improve cognitive thought.
Do you have the drive to stimulate your brain every day? It could lead you to enjoy your daily life for longer and reduce the risk of a very challenging future.
For more information on how we are trying to help our residents with dementia, visit Avistaseniorliving.com/Enhance.