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Three Stages of Alzheimer's Disease
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and irreversible disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and other important mental functions that will eventually remove a person’s ability to carry out simple tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is a group of brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medications and management strategies that may temporarily improve symptoms.
What Are the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?
The symptoms of this disease worsen over time, the rate of progression for each person varies and each person experiences the disease differently. Below are the three stages of Alzheimer’s.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease (early stage)
People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can appear to be healthy and functioning independently - participating in social activities, driving themselves, or working. Despite looking healthy, they may actually be having trouble making sense of their surroundings and experience memory lapses, like forgetting familiar words or locating everyday objects. This stage is often mistaken for normal aging.
Common difficulties in this stage include:
- Problems remembering the right word or name
- Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people
- Challenges performing tasks in social situations and work settings
- Forgetting material that one has just read
- Losing or misplacing objects
- Increased trouble with planning and organizing
Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease (middle stage)
This stage is typically the longest stage and can last for several years. In this stage, the degeneration of the brain worsens and spreads to other areas that control language, reasoning, sensory processing and thought. The damage to nerve cells in the brain makes it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. You may notice in this stage, someone with Alzheimer’s will confuse words, get frustrated or angry, or act out.
It is at this point that symptoms will be more noticeable to others and may include:
- Increased risk of wandering and getting lost
- Personality and behavioral changes, like suspiciousness, delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior
- Changes in sleeping patterns, like sleeping during the day and restlessness at night
- Some individuals experience trouble controlling their bladder and bowels
- Confusion about where they are and what day it is
- Forgetfulness of events or about their own personal history
Severe Alzheimer’s Disease (late stage)
This is the final stage of the disease where the damage to brain’s nerve cells is widespread and people may lose their motor coordination and the ability to walk, speak, feed themselves, and recognize others. Full-time care is usually required during this stage.
In this stage, some may:
- Need around-the-clock assistance with daily activities and personal care
- Become vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia
- Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as their surroundings
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