Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects the parts of the brain that control memory, thinking, and language. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting an estimated 5.5 million Americans. That number is expected to increase to 13.8 million by 2050. The disease usually begins after age 60, and most people with the disease are older than 85. However, Alzheimer’s disease can occur in people as young as 40.
As Alzheimer’s disease stages progress, patients may experience a decline in their ability to think and remember and eventually require constant care. The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include difficulty remembering names and recent events, forgetting how to do basic tasks, and becoming confused about where you are. The symptoms include more serious problems such as forgetting who you are, how to do things, and where you are in later stages. People with Alzheimer’s disease may also experience changes in mood and behavior, including agitation, aggression, and depression.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments that can help improve the quality of life for people with the disease. These treatments include medications, therapies, and support services. Let’s take a look at what to expect during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
As discussed in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, people may experience forgetfulness or occasional memory loss. As the disease progresses to later early stages, there may be mild memory problems and confusion. The earliest stage of Alzheimer’s is mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is characterized by problems with memory, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes but not severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Patients may also have difficulty with planning and organizing, making decisions, or completing simple tasks. As the disease progresses, these symptoms will likely worsen.
Middle-stage Alzheimer’s disease is the stage of the disease when most people are still able to live relatively independently but may need some help with some activities of daily living. Memory loss and confusion continue to progress, and people in this stage may have trouble with language, thinking, and reasoning. They may also experience changes in personality and behavior as the illness takes its toll on the brain. Memory loss becomes more severe, and people may have difficulty understanding simple conversations or recognizing familiar faces. Patients may also experience hallucinations and delusions.
People with middle-stage Alzheimer’s disease may also have problems with balance and coordination, which can increase the risk of falls. They may also have changes in their sleeping habits and eat less than they used to. As the disease progresses, people later in the middle stage may eventually need more help with activities of daily living and may need more long-term care.
The final stages of Alzheimer’s disease are characterized by a complete lack of awareness of the surroundings, severe memory impairment, and an inability to communicate. In the late stages of the disease, individuals may become completely bedridden and will require total care. The body may also go through drastic changes, such as weight loss, muscle wasting, and extreme thinness. Individuals in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease often experience significant behavioral changes, including agitation, aggression, and even violence.
Eventually, they succumb to the effects of the illness and die from complications such as pneumonia or bedsores. There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, treatments can be administered in the final stages to help make the individual more comfortable and ease their symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease that affects millions of people each year. It’s important for caregivers to understand the progression of the disease in order to plan for care in the coming years. It’s worth noting that the disease impacts everyone differently, and the stages of the disease can last for years. You’ll want to work closely with medical providers to get the best care and treatment available for anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.