Alzheimer's Disease - Symptoms, Stages and Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease in the brain that mostly occurs in adults who are over 60 years of age. Specialists estimate that more than 5 million people suffer from the disease. The name of the disease comes from Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who studied a woman who died from a peculiar brain disease in 1906. Alzheimer’s disease severely affects a person’s major cognitive abilities such as memory, information processing and task completion. Currently, medical experts have not developed a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, although several medicinal treatments can help to manage the symptoms.

Symptoms and Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Some specialists break Alzheimer’s disease down to three stages: mild, moderate and severe. Other specialists spread the stage of Alzheimer’s across seven thresholds with the very first stage being an asymptomatic stage. A person with the disease may start to exhibit symptoms in the second stage of Alzheimer’s. Symptoms that may occur during the second stage of the disease may include minute memory lapses and missing words from his or her vocabulary. No dementia is present in the early stages. Dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer’s that consists of failed cognitive reasoning, lack of control of one’s emotions, hallucinations and aggressive behavioral changes.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease

The third stage of Alzheimer’s disease is mildly apparent. The sufferer may experience difficulty planning and organizing events. The person may misplace important objects. He or she may lose the ability to retain recently read information. Additionally, the person may forget people’s names. Doctors may be able to diagnose the disease in this stage, but the probability is higher in the next stage.

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline

Stage four of Alzheimer’s disease will produce highly apparent symptoms such as mood changes and isolation. The person may forget bits and pieces of his or her personal history. The affected person may lose the ability to maintain finances or pay bills. Additionally, names may become harder for the person to remember. Basic arithmetic may be difficult for the sufferer, and such would send a red flag to a doctor for an Alzheimer’s examination.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s

A person who is in stage five may still remember many memories from his or her past. The individual will not need assistance with hygienic tasks or eating at this time. However, the person may have severe problems with mathematical problems, time prediction, and important information such as telephone numbers and addresses.

Stages 6 and 7: Severe Cognitive Decline

The last two stages of Alzheimer’s are severe. The person will start to lose awareness of his or her surroundings. The individual will need assistance performing daily tasks and controlling bowel and bladder functions. He or she may not remember close friends and family members. Dementia will occur in the most severe forms of the illness.

Treatment should begin as quickly as possible. Doctors may use medications such as Exelon, Aricept and Razadyne to restore messages between the neurotransmitters. Specialists may provide the patient with cognitive behavioral therapy to enhance coping skills, as well.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/alzheimers-disease-treatment-care

http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp

http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/treatment-overview


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