Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable, degenerative and terminal disease that’s commonly known for it’s devastating effects on a person’s memory. Other symptoms include confusion, mood swings, irritability, aggression, and withdrawal from social interaction. While the length and course varies from person to person, Alzheimer’s disease can progress undiagnosed for years.
The Progression of Alzheimer's:
As Alzheimer’s progresses, the patient will move through stages of dependence. In the early stage, the patient may experience increasing learning impairment or memory impairment. He or she will still able to communicate basic ideas and perform many tasks independently, while needing some supervision or assistance.
In the moderate stage, the patient will find it more difficult to communicate as memory loss increases. Reading, writing and speech skills will be progressively lost, while the patient may not recognize close friends or relatives. During this stage, behavioral changes, including wandering and becoming lost, irritability, resistance to caregiving and outbursts of aggression become more prevalent.
In the advanced stage, a person with Alzheimer’s will rely completely on caregivers, eventually losing speech and communication skills. At this stage, the patient can become exhausted and apathetic as muscle mass and mobility deteriorates, eventually leading to becoming bedridden.
What To Do?
While there are no definitive ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, some studies suggest that certain factors may help prevent or slow it, including diet, medicine and intellectual activities that exercise the brain “muscle”, such as chess, board games or puzzles.
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient can be difficult as the caregiver takes on a greater role while watching their loved one increasingly lose their independence and memory. Speak with your family physician if you think that you or a family member may have Alzheimer’s disease. Many support groups can provide caregivers the chance to speak with others in this role and share helpful information. Visit www.alzfdn.org to learn more.
If you're a caregiver for a person with Alzheimer's disease, and have questions or would like more information, call McDowell Hosptial at (828) 659-5000 today.