Alzheimer’s Disease 101

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) has three stages:

  • Stage 1: Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Stage 2: Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Stage 3: Severe Alzheimer’s Disease

Stage 1: Mild Alzheimer’s

Today Alzheimer’s disease can be detected earlier than before. A healthy person may suddenly have more trouble making sense of a world they once maneuvered with ease. Although the realization that something is wrong comes from family members the individual often started coming to the realization much sooner. Alzheimer’s disease can often be diagnosed at this early stage however, transparency on the part of the individual and family with the medical community is essential.

Some basic problems include:

  • asking and repeating questions.

  • simple memory loss i.e. loosing things, keys, wallets, purses.

  • making poor judgment and bad decisions.

  • taking longer to complete normal daily tasks.

  • sudden inability or difficulty handling money and or paying bills.

  • wandering and getting lost.

  • placing things in strange and odd places i.e. ice tray in the microwave.

  • irritability and mood changes this can include personality changes.

  • anxiety and/or aggression at times unexpected violence.

Stage 2: Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease is still manageable however the amount of supervision and care starts to become intensive and much more necessary. Unfortunately, this stage of Alzheimer’s disease is also very difficult for many spouses and families.

The symptoms are more obvious and may include:

  • confusion including a sudden inability to learn new things.

  • much more significant memory loss; forgetting family members names.

  • word problems including difficulty with speaking that includes problems with reading, and writing.

  • inability to organize their thoughts.

  • no longer able to form logical thoughts and phrases.

  • inability to sit still.

  • sudden Inability with basic daily living activities like showering or getting dressed.

  • Sudden fear of change.

  • individuals can no longer recognize children and friends.

  • some individuals experience delusional thoughts.

  • anger or aggression – some experience violet outbursts.

  • change in personality including use of inappropriate language including vulgarities.

  • sundowning which can include hallucinations, getting lost, crying without reason or cause.

  • family usually become frustrated and start looking for placement.

Stage 3: Severe Alzheimer’s Disease

Sadly, individuals who have progressed to this stage are no longer able to care for themselves. Most are unable to communicate with family, friends and medical personnel. They become introverted and no longer want to leave the safety of their rooms.

This includes:

  • inability to feed themselves leading to significant weight loss.

  • no longer recognizing their children and other key family members. This is heart breaking. If they have not been placed into a memory unit or nursing home this is the time when family relent and give up.

  • when the individual can no longer eat or drink, families are faced with the decision to either take extreme measures. This can include iv’s for hydration and tube feeding.

  • choking and or aspiration can cause pneumonia because the individual can no longer remember how to eat or drink.

  • the individuals body starts turning on them. They develop bed sores, infections including Urinary tract adding to the confusion.

  • the individual sleeps along and at times seems as though they are in pain because the moan.

  • incontinence (Loss of bowel and bladder control) becomes part of their normal routine.

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease researchers continue to make progress. Unfortunately, the national institute on aging reports; “Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.