Alzheimer’ Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disease that destroys cognitive function: memory, thinking, and reasoning. Eventually patients can no longer carry out even simple daily tasks. People with Alzheimer's experience signs and symptoms in varying degrees.
The Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease develops gradually. The nerve damage it causes first affects learning and memory. Stages of the disease are as follows:
Stage 1: No Impairment -- The individual does not experience any symptoms, and none can be assessed by a professional either.
Stage 2: Very Mild Impairment -- The individual subjectively feels they forget words or common objects, but a professional cannot assess any impairment.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline -- A professional can diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s in some individuals by stage 3. Friends and family will begin to notice deficiencies. Common problems include difficulty planning, remembering names of close friends and family, and reading with very little retention.
Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline (Early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease) -- An expert will recognize clear deficiencies in several areas, including the ability to perform complex tasks like planning for dinner guests or paying bills.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline (Mid-stage Alzheimer’s Disease) -- At this stage, individuals will need help with day-to-day living as the disease creates major memory gaps. Simple arithmetic and choosing clothes may become difficult, for instance. However, they will usually know basically who they are, names of close relatives (spouse and children) and need no help eating or with the toilet.
Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline -- At this stage, mental difficulties continue to worsen. Individuals at stage 6 will need help with the toilet, they often become suspicious of those who help them (they often forget their identities), and tend to wander from home and become lost.
Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline (Late-stage Alzheimer’s disease) -- This stage of Alzheimer’s disease deprives people of their ability to speak, respond to their environment and eventually all motor control. Individuals with late-stage Alzheimer’s need near-constant assistance for basic needs, including holding their heads up.
How is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?
Alzheimer’s disease is assessed based on several criteria. Cognitive tests of memory, counting, language and so forth are often used. The affected person and their friends and family may be interviewed to determine changes in behavior, personality, and ability to carry out tasks. Various brain scans may be administered to rule out other possible causes, and for the same reason blood and urine samples may be drawn.
With some help from the Alzheimer's Association, here are the top 10 warning signs and symptoms to look for with Alzheimer's disease.