Alzheimer’s is a progressive disorder of the brain that causes the cells in the brain to waste away and eventually die.
What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
The most visible sign of Alzheimer’s decline is memory loss. Despite it being normal to have occasional memory lapses and short-term memory loss, a person with Alzheimer’s disease has early signs of often forgetting conversations and recent events. This worsens as the diagnosis of the condition worsens, and memory care will be required.
Symptoms associated with memory loss include:
- Forgetting appointments and agreements with no chance of remembering later
- Misplacing objects and storing them in illogical places
- Losing track of where the person is even in familiar areas
- Forgetting the right words to call objects and forgetting the names of everyday people like family members
- Difficulty with typical problem-solving skills, activities of daily living, and social interaction
Problems with concentration and thinking can also characterize Alzheimer’s disease and stages of memory loss. Memory impairment may be worse when multitasking. As the disease advances, the person may fail to distinguish numbers and perform simple math. Decisions and judgment by a person with Alzheimer’s may be awkward. For instance, a person with Alzheimer’s can wear a winter coat on a sunny, summer morning. The disease also affects the behavior and mood of the individual.
The person may show signs of:
- Social withdrawal
- Inhibition loss
- Delusions, such as believing a theft has taken place while it hasn’t
- Sleeping disorders
- Lack of trust
Eventually, the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may forget fundamental tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating. At advanced stages, these symptoms are accompanied by vestibulodynia symptoms. Some deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease have been due to the brain failing to note simple emergencies like dehydration.
How is dementia diagnosed, and is dementia a mental illness?
Apart from Alzheimer’s disease, other common types of dementia include Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, multi-infarct dementia, Pick’s disease, and Lewy body dementia. Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that has been linked to the growth of the vestibular papillae in women. The vestibular papillae lead to a condition known as vestibular papillomatosis in the vulva.
Is dementia a mental illness? There is no one formulated test to check for a diagnosis of dementia and can be challenging to distinguish. Despite that, it is classified as a mental illness. The first method clinical researchers use for treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia is the elimination method. This helps to check whether the person has an underlying condition that has dementia-like symptoms. Such conditions may include normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal thyroid function, high blood pressure, or a vitamin deficiency.
dementia-like symptoms. Such conditions may include normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal thyroid function, high blood pressure, or a vitamin deficiency.
If there are no underlying conditions, the following steps are used to diagnose dementia:
The clinical researchers will ask whether there are any drugs or medications the person is taking, whether there is a history of dementia treatment in the family, and how the dementia symptoms began, among other questions. This helps to determine the disease process of manifestation of dementia and the mental health of the patient. People with dementia are often invited to clinical trials. During clinical trials, doctors can study Alzheimer’s symptoms and dementia better and hopefully learn to improve long-term memory loss.
A sample of body fluids will not only rule out the possibility of another disease due to age. It will also check the hormonal balance and chemical balances in the body. If the person passes the lab tests, the doctor can proceed to further dementia tests.
The doctor will check on the memory, problem-solving ability, math skills, and any other criteria that can determine the mental brain functioning. In this stage, a psychiatrist can be involved.
Brain scans help to identify tumors, strokes, and related problems that can cause dementia and cognitive problems. Some of the scans done include; CT scans, MRI scans, and PET scans to observe brain activity.
What are the stages of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease can last for several years. Throughout the seven stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and forgetfulness are not noticeable during the first three stages. This is due to the symptoms of early-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s disease being very similar to age-related memory loss.
No Impairment Stage
At this stage of dementia or Alzheimer’s, the condition is not detectable; it also has no signs of cognitive decline and no impairment of thinking.
Very Mild Cognitive Decline
At this dementia stage, the person starts forgetting simple things such as forgetting car keys or their wallet. At this stage of early-onset Alzheimer’s, loved ones and physicians may not be able to detect the disease.
Mild Cognitive Decline
Increased forgetfulness and lack of concentration occur at this stage of mild cognitive impairment. At the workplace, a lack of focus can be seen. At home, there may be a lack of interest or attention to household duties like paying bills, making meals, or cleaning living spaces. This stage of mild dementia can be noticed by family members and loved ones and can last for approximately seven years.
Moderate Cognitive Decline
This is the first stage of mid-stage dementia. There is increased forgetfulness, difficulty in concentration, difficulties in solving small problems, and inability to track movement in unfamiliar places. Many people in this stage of memory loss and dementia are often in denial of their forgetfulness. A doctor can diagnose this mid-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s, and the disease process can easily be identified. At this point, you may want to consider senior care or the support of senior living communities to assist in the continuum of care for your loved one.
Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
At this stage, significant memory deficiencies are noticeable. People with this late-stage dementia will require help in bathing, dressing, cooking, and other day-to-day chores. A caregiver may be needed to assist the person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s in their activities to improve their quality of life. A person with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can start forgetting everyday things like a phone number and the car they drive. Their alertness to their environment around them begins to fade. As such, the resident with dementia becomes a risk to themselves or others and may require long-term care to protect themselves. The stage lasts for approximately two years.
Severe Cognitive Decline
At this stage, the person no longer has coherent speech, and their health and well-being decline. There is also increased incontinence of the bowel and the bladder, along with vestibulodynia symptoms like soreness and itching. The person starts experiencing delusions, anxiety, and anger while at the same time losing memories of the past. Caregivers, licensed nurses, or professional staff may be required to assist with physical activity at a memory care residence or a long-term care facility. Simple cognitive tasks are difficult for them, like remembering important family dates or remembering to turn off the stove. The dementia symptoms in this stage usually last about three years.
Last Stage Dementia
At this stage, the person cannot communicate and is now suffering from severe dementia. All the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are seen at this stage. The brain cannot control movement, and the person with dementia cannot move and will require nursing care. Your loved one will need constant Alzheimer’s care, which cannot be provided through in-home care or in a senior living community.
Alzheimer’s patients will receive specialized, individualized care at memory care facilities or hospice care facilities designed specifically for Alzheimer’s and dementia care. In most cases, death is swift at this stage for dementia residents since the brain cannot process simple needs like hunger and thirst. Care assisted living is needed on a full-time basis. At such an advanced point, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can lead to death.
How is Alzheimer’s Disease prevented or treated?
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s dementia disease is unknown, and as a result, there is no known prevention. However, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes type 2, and lack of being mentally active have been linked to the disease. To further prevent memory loss, ensure that sugar levels are checked using a diabetes biomarker. A diabetes biomarker helps to screen sugar levels in the blood. Exercise, social activities, and cognitive function also keep the brain cells mentally active. Some of the cognitive functioning activities include playing mind games and being physically fit. Research is still going on, but for the moment, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.