When Alzheimers Disease Worsens
While early-stage Alzheimers disease may have only minor effects on his ability to function, this can change as his condition worsens. He may start to need assistance in his everyday life.
Symptoms of progressing Alzheimers can include changes in his sleep habits. His sleep patterns may change, and he may wake up during the night.
He may lose his ability to perform basic tasks, like selecting appropriate clothes and preparing his own meals.
He may not be able to recall current events, or important events in his life. He can have trouble writing or reading, lose the ability to exercise good judgment, or have difficulty speaking clearly.
A person with progressing Alzheimers can show signs of mental health issues. He can be agitated or depressed, experience delusions or hallucinations, become argumentative, and even exhibit violent behavior.
Some individuals with Alzheimers experience potentially-dangerous medical complications. If his ability to swallow is impaired, he can be at risk of choking. Other medical complications may include the inability to control his urine or bowels.
Individuals with later-stage Alzheimers lose the ability to recognize their loved ones. They are unable to perform daily self-care activities, and need assistance with bathing, dressing, and eating. They can lose the ability to understand language, and are no longer able to communicate.
What To Do If You Notice The Warning Signs For Alzheimers
If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimers in yourself or someone you know, dont ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
With early detection, you can:Get the maximum benefit from available treatments You can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer. You may also increase your chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.
What Are The Stages Of Alzheimers
Alzheimers disease slowly gets worse over time. People with this disease progress at different rates and in several stages. Symptoms may get worse and then improve, but until an effective treatment for the disease itself is found, the persons ability will continue to decline over the course of the disease.
Early-stage Alzheimers is when a person begins to experience memory loss and other cognitive difficulties, though the symptoms appear gradual to the person and their family. Alzheimers disease is often diagnosed at this stage.
During middle-stage Alzheimers, damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. People at this stage may have more confusion and trouble recognizing family and friends.
In late-stage Alzheimers, a person cannot communicate, is completely dependent on others for care, and may be in bed most or all the time as the body shuts down.
How long a person can live with Alzheimers disease varies. A person may live as few as three or four years if he or she is older than 80 when diagnosed, to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger. Older adults with Alzheimers disease need to know their end-of-life care options and express their wishes to caregivers as early as possible after a diagnosis, before their thinking and speaking abilities fail.
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What You Need To Know About Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers is not a normal, inevitable part of aging, but advanced age is a risk factor. Individuals who have had a parent or sibling with Alzheimers are at a higher risk. There can be genetic risk factors for Alzheimers. Individuals who have had a head trauma, or problems with their blood vessels or heart, have a higher risk. Women are considered to have a higher risk than men.
Alzheimers cannot be cured, but the progression of symptoms can be slowed down. Managing symptoms, and making appropriate changes in the persons life, are considered the best approaches.
The most important point to keep in mind is warning signs cannot be dismissed. A person with Alzheimers can have the healthiest, highest quality of life if he receives an early diagnosis from his physician.
It is much wiser to be tested for Alzheimers when you suspect it, and learn your loved ones symptoms are caused by something else, than to hesitate in seeking assistance from a doctor. The earlier Alzheimers is diagnosed, the easier it will be to ensure your loved ones health, safety, and well-being.
What Are The Symptoms Of Middle Stage Of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Starting to have trouble carrying out everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, and grooming without help
- Major gaps in memory begin to be evident, with individuals often unable to recall their address, the year, the season, and recent events.
- Individuals often incorrectly remember their personal history.
- Inability to think clearly and solve problems
- Inability to make judgments such as dressing for the weather
- Difficulty with understanding or learning new information
- Speaking, reading, and writing are difficult, but individuals can usually read and understand short phrases, especially common ones.
- Individuals can be disoriented or confused even in familiar surroundings, occasionally forgetting names of people close to them.
- Beginning to experience significant behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, suspiciousness, hallucinations, or delusions
- They can still remember things that happened long ago and recognize people from early in their life.
- They still recognize their own face.
- They can interpret simple sensory experiences .
- Walking and mobility are usually not difficult.
- They can usually still eat and use the toilet without assistance.
- Individuals can make decisions requiring a simple yes/no and either/or judgment
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How Is Alzheimers Diagnosed And Treated
Doctors may ask questions about health, conduct cognitive tests, and carry out standard medical tests to determine whether to diagnose a person with Alzheimers disease. If a doctor thinks a person may have Alzheimers, they may refer the person to a specialist, such as a neurologist, for further assessment. Specialists may conduct additional tests, such as brain scans or lab tests of spinal fluid, to help make a diagnosis. These tests measure signs of the disease, such as changes in brain size or levels of certain proteins.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are several medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can help manage some symptoms of the disease along with coping strategies to manage behavioral symptoms. In 2021, FDA provided accelerated approval for a new medication, aducanumab, that targets the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates abnormally in the brains of people with Alzheimers. The new medication helps to reduce amyloid deposits, but has not yet been shown to affect clinical symptoms or outcomes, such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia.
Most medicines work best for people in the early or middle stages of Alzheimers. Researchers are exploring other drug therapies and nondrug interventions to delay or prevent the disease as well as treat its symptoms.
Not Being Able To Follow Recipes
Something as minor as whipping up a home-cooked meal can be a struggle for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If someone loses their ability to follow a recipeespecially one they’ve made a thousand timesthat might be an indication of the cognitive changes that commonly occur in the early stages of the disease.
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How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, or if you or a loved one is experiencing increased memory loss. They may refer you to a doctor who specializes in AD.
Theyll conduct a medical exam and a neurological exam to aid in the diagnosis. They may also choose to complete an imaging test of your brain. They can only make a diagnosis after the medical evaluation is completed.
Theres no cure for AD at this time. The symptoms of AD can sometimes be treated with medications meant to help improve memory loss or decrease sleeping difficulties.
Research is still being done on possible alternative treatments.
What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age but are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. A doctor can do thinking, memory, and language tests to see if a person has MCI. People with MCI are at a greater risk for developing Alzheimers disease, so its important to see a doctor or specialist regularly if you have this condition.
Struggles With Understanding Spaces & Visual Images
Alzheimer’s affects the brain, which means that the brain struggles with its functions. Specifically, with your body’s motor skills and vision system. People struggle with their balance systems, which makes them more likely to spill and drop things. People also have difficulty with distance, which makes them more likely to run into objects they thought were further away.
Signs Of Mild Alzheimers Disease
In mild Alzheimers disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family. Problems can include:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Increased sleeping
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
A common cause of death for people with Alzheimers disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.
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If A Loved One Shows Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease
If your loved one is exhibiting any of the signs of Alzheimers, he needs an appointment with his physician immediately. As his doctor should already have his medical history, the doctor can perform a variety of tests and exams. You can inform him of your loved ones symptoms, and he can rule out other causes of the symptoms.
If your family member does have Alzheimers disease, the doctor can recommend appropriate treatment. While there are no cures for Alzheimers, there are medications that can slow its progression, and medications to control behavioral problems.
Other options include plans to manage symptoms, changes in his home environment, and support for his family members or caregivers.
If someone in your life is showing warning signs of Alzheimers, waiting is the worst course of action. The person should see his physician as soon as possible. A diagnosis can be made, and the doctor will provide helpful advice.
Challenges With Direction And Time
For people living with Alzheimers disease, details associated with time and space are frequently forgotten. They often lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. It also becomes increasingly hard to get a sense of direction.
A person with Alzheimers may get lost going home or not understand where they are, even when theyre in their own home. Or they may keep putting on a heavy winter coat although its a hot summer day.
In later stages, wandering becomes an issue for some Alzheimers patients. This is particularly dangerous if a patient wanders away from home unobserved or in the middle of the night and cant make their way back.
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Decline In Physical Hygiene
Even if someone was strict about keeping up with good hygiene before, that may change once they begin to showcase signs of Alzheimer’s. Due to the changes in cognitive function that occur with this disease, things like taking baths or showers, changing clothes, and flossing become more difficult, says the Alzheimer’s Association. And for more ways to improve your personal well-being, check out the 100 Easy Ways to Be a Much Healthier Person, According to Science.
What Can You Do About It
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 65 has dementia. Though the disease affects each patient differently, most people with Alzheimer’s live only 4 to 8 years after diagnosis.
While you cannot reverse dementia or the damage it causes, there are ways to improve quality of life. Here are some simple tips for management that you can discuss with your doctor:
- Take prescription medications to counteract cognitive and behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Find support in the form of therapy, support groups, friends, or family to help develop coping mechanisms for cognitive and behavioral changes.
- Address safety issues in the home by installing safety bars in the bathroom and shower, automatic shut-off switches on appliances, and reminders to lock the door.
- Stay on top of co-existing conditions, working with your doctor to manage medical problems with the proper form of treatment.
- Follow a healthy diet that supports brain health and function. Focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, natural sources of omega fatty acids, and foods high in fiber and protein.
- Talk to your doctor about taking supplements to support memory and cognitive function. Options you might consider include caprylic acid, coenzyme Q10, ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3 fatty acids.
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Who Has Alzheimers Disease
- In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimers disease.1
- Younger people may get Alzheimers disease, but it is less common.
- The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
- This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
- Symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60, and the risk increases with age.
Taking Longer To Complete Basic Tasks
As most people get older, they tend to slow down a little bit, both physically and mentally. However, if you’re losing the ability to follow plans and having trouble concentrating, meaning things take considerably longer than they used to, that could be an indication an Alzheimer’s diagnosis isn’t far off.
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Confusion With Time Or Place
People with Alzheimers can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
Whats a typical age-related change?Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
What Is The Burden Of Alzheimers Disease In The United States
- Alzheimers disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.2
- The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
- The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.3
In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimers disease.1 This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
In 2010, the costs of treating Alzheimers disease were projected to fall between $159 and $215 billion.4 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually.4
Death rates for Alzheimers disease are increasing, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that are on the decline.5 Dementia, including Alzheimers disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimers may be considerably higher.6
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Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks At Home At Work Or At Leisure
People with Alzheimers often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
Whats a typical age-related change?Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.
Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .
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Misplacing Things And Losing The Ability To Retrace Steps
A person with Alzheimers disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
Whats a typical age-related change?Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
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