Stage 7 Late Or Severe Dementia And Failure To Thrive
In this final stage, speech becomes severely limited, as well as the ability to walk or sit. Total support around the clock is needed for all functions of daily living and care.
Duration: impacted by quality of care, but average length is 1 to 2.5 years.
Caring for someone with Alzheimers
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimers disease can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But it can be a rewarding, life-affirming experience as well.
The more you understand about the caregiving role, the better youll be able to prepare for future challenges and cope with the stress and emotional upheaval that comes with each new stage.
Changes In Mood And Personality
Watch for behaviors that are out of character. Is the person acting confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious more than usual? Are they getting easily upset in situations that didn’t used to cause agitation, or at times when they’re out of their comfort zone?
These signs may indicate Alzheimer’s, or they may signal that something else is wrong, like depression or a bad reaction to medication. “That’s why it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation as soon as possible,” Bednarczyk says. “The doctor can help figure out exactly what’s going on and how to help.”
It may, however, be difficult to talk to your loved one about these changes and convince them to see a doctor. If you need suggestions on how to approach your loved one or what to say, Bednarczyk offers expert advice in 6 Tips for Talking About Memory Loss.
Challenges In Planning Or Solving Problems
This could mean difficulty concentrating on solving your daily crossword puzzle, keeping track of finances . It may also be more difficult to stay organized or multitask, especially when there are a lot of moving parts.
“For instance, your mom loves cooking and always has the entire family over for holiday meals,” Bednarczyk says. “But now it seems to be too much for her to handle, she’s getting overwhelmed or frustrated, and she says she doesn’t want to host the holidays anymore.”
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Problems With Vision And Spatial Awareness
Alzheimers disease can sometimes cause vision problems, making it difficult for people to judge distances between objects. The person may find it hard to distinguish contrast and colors or judge speed or distance.
These vision problems combined can affect the persons ability to drive.
Normal aging also affects eyesight, so it is essential to have regular checkups with an eye doctor.
What You Can Do
If you think you notice the signs of Alzheimerâs in yourself or a loved one, the best thing to do is to talk to a doctor. They can let you know what the symptoms mean and what your options are for treating them. There are new advances available which can help with early detection and treatment. One is as simple as a blood test to determine the presence or absence of proteins that may indicate there are Alzheimer’s associated plaques in the brain.
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Early Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease
For most people who develop Alzheimers, it tends to be changes in memory that are detected first. You may notice the decline yourself or have it pointed out to you by family or friends. But the disease is about more than just memory changes. Alzheimers also presents itself as problems with language, judgment, and abstract thinking.
The early warning signs of Alzheimers disease include:
Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Some people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimers. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimers disease. People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to events or appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.
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Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life
Lots of things can make you occasionally forgetful, including stress, taking certain medications or just having a lot on your plate.
But it should raise a red flag if you or your loved one is frequently doing the following:
- Forgetting recently learned information or important dates or events
- Mixing up family members or friends, or not recognizing them at all
- Repeating the same question or story in a short amount of time
- Relying increasingly or exclusively on reminders or family members to handle tasks that previously were easy to remember to do
“When we talk about memory changes, we’re referring to short-term memory, not long-term memory,” Bednarczyk explains. “Your mom may be able to recall going on a family vacation when she was 12, but she doesn’t remember eating lunch that day, or that she took her medication an hour ago.”
Challenges With Planning And Problem
Some people with Alzheimers experience changes in their ability to plan and problem-solve. Concentrating becomes more of a challenge, and, as a result, it takes longer to do everything than it did before. One of the most prominent signs is finding it hard to work with numbers, for example, making mistakes on recipe measurements or bill payments.
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How Do Doctors Diagnose Alzheimers
Theres no single test to diagnose Alzheimers. In addition to a physical examination, the doctor will ask about your medical history and may order lab work such as blood and urine tests to rule out other causes of symptoms you are experiencing, like medication side effects.
They may also do cognitive testing, which involves asking a series of questions to test and assess memory, focus, problem-solving, counting and language skills.
In some circumstances, brain imaging tools a CT scan, PET scan or MRI — may be used to determine if there are any physical changes in the structure of the brain tissue or high levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that builds up as plaque as brain tissue degenerates. This buildup is a bellwether for Alzheimers.
Causes And Risk Factors
Despite its prevalence and the amount of research into the disease, theres still much about Alzheimers that remains unclear. For a long time, scientists looking for the causes of Alzheimers focused mainly on the buildup of proteins in the brainamyloid that accumulates in plaques and tau that forms tangleswhich degenerate nerve connections and gradually destroy memory and thinking.
However, new evidence suggests that many other factors may also play a role in the development of the disease, such as inflammation, immunity impairment, exposure to toxins, and changes in the way the brain handles glucose. Since women experience Alzheimers at significantly higher rates than men, its possible hormonal changes could also contribute to the disease.
With the exception of early-onset Alzheimers, the disease is most likely triggered by a combination of advancing age and genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
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Alzheimers Disease Vs Mild Cognitive Impairment
Early dementia, also known as mild cognitive impairment , involves problems with memory, language, or other cognitive functions. But unlike those with full-blown Alzheimers, people with MCI are still able to function in their daily lives without relying on others.
According to the Alzheimers Association, about 15 to 20 percent of people over the age of 65 experience mild cognitive impairment. Many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia. However, others plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline and are able to live independently. Some people with mild cognitive impairment even return to normal.
Symptoms of MCI include:
- Frequently losing or misplacing things.
- Frequently forgetting conversations, appointments, or events.
- Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances.
- Difficulty following the flow of a conversation.
It is not yet fully understood why MCI progresses to Alzheimers disease in some, while remaining stable in others. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater the risk of developing Alzheimers down the line.
Problems Writing Or Speaking
The person may also have difficulty with words and communication. They may find it hard to follow or contribute to a conversation, or they may repeat themselves. They may also have difficulty writing down their thoughts.
The person may stop in the middle of a conversation, unable to figure out what to say next. They may also struggle to find the right word or label things incorrectly.
It is not uncommon for people to occasionally struggle to find the right word. Typically, they eventually remember it and do not experience the problem frequently.
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Stage 4 Late Confusional/mild Alzheimers Disease
Mathematical challenges can cause problems handling finances. Increasingly, the person will forget recent events and conversations, although most people in this stage still know themselves and their family.
Problems carrying out sequential tasks, including cooking, driving, ordering food at restaurants, and shopping are common. The person often withdraws from social situations, becomes defensive, and denies any problems.
Duration: roughly 2 years.
What Causes Alzheimers Disease
Several processes occur in Alzheimers disease, including amyloid plaque deposits, neurofibrillary tangles and neuronal death.
- Amyloid plaques are deposits outside the brain cells they prevent the brain from passing signals properly.
- Neurofibrillary tangles are deposits inside the brain cells they kill the cells by blocking off food and energy, causing dementia that worsens over time.
- Neuronal death causes shrinking in the outer layer of the brain which is vital to memory, language and judgement Alzheimers disease is characterised by this shrinkage.
In most cases, scientists are still unsure of what triggers the formation of plaques, tangles and other chemical changes associated with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. Suspected causes include environmental factors, chemical imbalances or the bodys own immune system.
Alzheimers disease tends to target the outer part of the brain first, which is associated with learning and short-term memory. As the disease progresses deeper into the brain, other functions are affected and symptoms get worse.
For people with familial Alzheimers disease, mutations in 3 genes have been found to increase the production of amyloid plaques that damage the brain. There are other ‘risk-factor genes’ that may increase a person’s chance of getting Alzheimers disease earlier in life.
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How To Address Early Signs Of Dementia
If you notice any of the above signs and think someone you love may have Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia, make a doctors appointment immediately. Early diagnosis is critical for ruling out curable conditions that can mimic symptoms of dementia, devising care and treatment strategies, and making legal and financial plans for the future.
What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
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Early Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease
The importance of early detection cannot be overstated. The following are some early symptoms and signs of Alzheimers disease that seniors and family caregivers should be aware of. If a caregiver or family member notices these symptoms, your loved one should make an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible. Below is a list of symptoms to keep in mind.
What Are The Signs Of Dementia
Most age-related memory problems are not signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but evidence of a slowdown in the brain’s processing speed that increases the time it takes to retrieve information. As we age, our ability to divide our attention among more than one task or bits of information also declines, which can interfere with storing new memories.
While you may be able to chalk off a few memory lapses to normal aging, there are some common warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If you or someone you love is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, talk to a doctor.
Trouble remembering things. At first, only short-term memory may be affected, with long-term memory issues developing later. People may forget an appointment or the name of a new acquaintance. Many people complain of memory loss but can provide considerable detail regarding incidents of forgetfulness, such as where they were at the time. However, acknowledging memory loss only if asked and being unable to recall specific instances when they were unable to remember something can be a sign of dementia.
Trouble completing ordinary tasks. Simple tasks that once caused no difficulty may become much more challenging. For example, forgetting how to use the oven, lock the door, or get dressed can be signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Impaired judgment. The individual might have trouble making decisions, solving problems, or planning.For example, he may no longer be able to balance a checkbook or pay bills.
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Other Causes Of Alzheimers Symptoms
Other conditions can mimic early Alzheimers symptoms, such as:
Central nervous system and other degenerative disorders, including head injuries, brain tumors, stroke, epilepsy, Picks Disease, Parkinsons disease, and Huntingtons disease.
Metabolic ailments, such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, and kidney or liver failure.
Substance-induced conditions, such as drug interactions, medication side-effects, alcohol and drug abuse.
Psychological factors, such as depression, emotional trauma, chronic stress, psychosis, chronic sleep deprivation, and delirium.
Infections, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and syphilis.
Early Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Each person is unique and may experience symptoms differently, but common warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease can include:
1. Memory loss that affects daily life
Changes in short-term memory that disrupt routine activities or job skills forgetting important dates or events repeatedly asking the same questions relying on memory aids or other people to remember things.
2. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Having problems with routine tasks at home, work or during recreational activities examples could include difficulty with cooking, driving, using a cell phone or shopping.
3. Challenges with problem-solving or planning
Having trouble working through processes they have done consistently, for a long time examples could include paying bills or cooking recipes they have used for years.
4. New problems with vocabulary when speaking or writing
Having trouble following or joining a conversation, or struggling to find the right word when trying to name a familiar object.
5. Confusion or disorientation to time and place
Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time forgetting where they are located at a given time, or how they got there.
6. Withdrawal from normal activities
Not wanting to participate in normal work, family or social activities examples could include avoiding going to church, not being able to follow football games, movies or keep up with what is happening.
7. Personality or mood changes
9. Diminished or poor judgment
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Changes In Mood Or Emotion
The person may be more anxious, frightened or sad, and so at risk of depression. It is also common to become more irritable perhaps in frustration at lost abilities or easily upset. A person can often be more withdrawn, lack self-confidence and lose interest in hobbies or people.
Changes in behaviour are not common in early-stage dementia, other than in FTD. A person with behavioural variant FTD may lose their inhibitions and behave in socially inappropriate ways. They may also act impulsively and lose empathy for others.
Significant physical changes at this stage tend to be limited to DLB, where problems with movement are similar to Parkinsons disease. If someone with vascular or mixed dementia has a stroke, this can lead to weak limbs on one side.
Need help finding dementia information?
Everybody forgets things from time to time. But if you or other people are noticing that memory problems are getting worse, or affecting everyday life, it could be a sign of dementia.
The Difference Between Normal Signs Of Aging And Alzheimers
For many people, detecting the first signs of memory problems in themselves or a loved one brings an immediate fear of Alzheimers disease. However, most of us over 65 experience some level of forgetfulness. Occasionally forgetting where you left your glasses, calling your grandson by your sons name, walking into a room and forgetting why, or not quite being able to retrieve information you have on the tip of your tongue, for example, are not considered warning signs of Alzheimers disease.
It is normal for age-related brain shrinkage to produce changes in processing speed, attention, and short-term memory, creating so-called senior moments. For most of us, these occasional lapses in short-term memory are a normal part of the aging process.
The primary difference between the normal signs of aging and Alzheimers disease is that the former doesnt affect your ability to function in daily life. Occasional memory lapses as you get older dont prevent you from doing what you want to do. In Alzheimers disease, however, memory loss becomes so severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships.
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