What are the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and what should we know about each stage?
In the early stages of the illness, signs of the disease are often subtle and not alarming. Patients are most likely less energetic and less spontaneous. They have minor memory gaps and mood swings and tend to be quite slow in their learning and reaction. Sufferers would then start preferring usual things and avoid anything new. The loss of memory might also affect job performance. The patient will then start getting confused, making poor judgments and easily getting lost.
As the disease progresses, the patient will still be able to do simple tasks by themselves. For more complex activities, however, they will need assistance. Both comprehension and speech will start to get even slower and they will oftentimes lose their train of thought while speaking. They might forget to pay their bills and might even get lost while traveling. When they become aware of this disability, AD patients become irritable, depressed and restless. AD sufferers might remember past events but not recent ones. Some patients might invent some words and will not recognize familiar people. Caregivers will need to constantly give and repeat instructions.
During the last stages of AD, patients lose their ability to chew and swallow. The patient?s memory may have deteriorated to the point that he or she cannot remember or recognize anyone. The patient loses control over his or her bladder and bowels and becomes prone to pneumonia and infection. Physical conditions will worsen until the patient is bedridden and dies.
No treatment can totally cure AD although patients in the early to middle stages of the disease may take medication to help prevent some symptoms from worsening. Some drugs can help in controlling behavioral symptoms of AD such as agitation, depression, sleeplessness, anxiety and wandering. But this can be done only for a limited time.
Patience is the key to taking care of AD sufferers. It is important not to forget that they are as frustrated and angry about the disease more than you are.