Considered to be the most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurologic disorder which affects cognitive functioning. Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease experience a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral, and social skills which affect their ability to function independently.
There are three stages to Alzheimer’s disease however, progression and development of symptoms changes person to person.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: In the early stage of the disease, patients display mild memory loss. They often have difficulty recalling recent events and conversations which causes them to ask repeated questions. Additionally, normal daily tasks, which were once routine, begin to take longer to complete.
Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease: Parts of the brain that control language, reasoning, conscious thought, and sensory processing become affected at this stage of the disease. As a result of growing memory impairment and confusion, patients begin to experience increasing disruption to their daily life. Often at this stage, patients begin to have difficulty recognizing familiar people and things. Changes in mood, behavior, and ability to cope may begin to develop in this stage.
Severe Alzheimer’s Disease: Progressive changes to the brain as a result of the disease cause the brain to shrink significantly. In this late stage of the disease patients are no longer able to function independently and become completely reliant on others for their care.
Changes in memory are normal however, patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease experience memory changes beyond what is considered normal for aging.
Symptoms can include but are not limited to:
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease requires a neurological evaluation by a medical provider in which assessments of memory, concentration, and cognitive functions will be made. It is important that a family member or caregiver be present for the evaluation to obtain a detailed medical history. Obtaining detailed family history is also important to diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease. Having a first-degree relative diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease increases the risk of developing the disease.