It's emotionally devastating to friends and family when they begin noticing a person has started to have trouble planning and organizing, keeping up with work, completing chores, or following through on plans.
The aforementioned problems may be an indicator that someone could be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but since not all individuals have these exact symptoms it can still be problematic to diagnose this deadly disease.
Slight memory lapses are common in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The affected person may forget common words and lose a few things around the house, but a medical diagnosis by healthcare professionals still may not be possible in those early stages.
Alzheimer’s symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
The seven terrifying levels or, commonly referred to as, stages of Alzheimer’s disease everyone should be aware of include: Stage 1 - no impairment; Stage 2 - very mild decline; Stage 3 - mild decline; Stage 4 - moderate decline; Stage 5 - moderately severe decline; Stage 6 - severe decline; and Stage 7 - very severe decline.
Stage 1 Alzheimer’s is not detectable. There is no memory loss or cognitive confusion and may not seem scary at first. However, it is disturbing to know that damage is already being done without leaving a trace of evidence.
During Stage 2, it is common to have slight memory lapses and the person may forget common words and lose a few things around the house, but a medical diagnosis still won’t be possible.
Stage 3 is when friends and family start noticing the person’s memory loss and confusion. The person may have trouble planning and organizing, keeping up with work, completing tasks, or following through on plans. Sometimes Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed during this stage, but since not all individuals have these exact symptoms it can still be complicated.
Stage 4 is when everyone becomes aware someone is suffering from Alzheimer’s and medical professionals normally can diagnose the disease. A medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut symptoms, such as short-term memory loss and forgetting family history. Typically during this stage, the affected person will need help managing finances, remembering to pay bills, and to send out cards to loved ones and friends for birthdays and holidays.
Stage 5 is when most Alzheimer’s patients need a lot of support. They will show a lot of confusion and need assistance with daily tasks such as cooking, getting dressed, and dates and times.
Stage 6 is when Alzheimer’s patients will need full-time care. They’ll begin to show even more confusion and unawareness of their surroundings, and others will notice major personality changes. During this stage, patients will often start stuttering, become frustrated, and may start confusing family members and forgetting people entirely.
Since Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness, during Stage 7, the patients are nearing death and most lose the ability to speak. Some lose the ability to smile or move without help, and all will experience severe memory loss. Sadly enough, Stage 7 is the heartbreaking end to a terrible illness.
According to research, it is unfortunate there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Federal Drug Administration approved drugs that slow the progression do exist. However, people should do everything possible to prevent developing the disease in the first place. That includes eating a healthy diet and exercising are a couple of ways to help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, but sadly, nothing is 100-percent effective.
Many people are continually confused about the differences of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Many people believe that one means the other. In fact, the distinction between the two diseases often causes confusion on the behalf of patients, families and caregivers.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are still a mystery in many ways according to healthcare professionals. This is why the two similar diseases are often mixed up in every day conversation and understanding.
According to the National Institute on Aging, Dementia is a brain disorder that affects communication and performance of daily activities, and Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
For further information about Alzheimer’s, the causes and treatment options, contact your healthcare professional or visit the Alzheimer's Association at alz.org, or call their 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.
People must not ignore the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. If someone suspects a friend or relative is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, it would behoove them to talk with the affected person and convince them into seeking a medical diagnosis and possible treatment.
Their life could depend upon being treated during early stages.