Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects mental, cognitive and motor ability and subsequently leads to premature death when neurological functions completely shut down. Because everyone is different and people catch Alzheimer’s disease at various stages, it’s difficult to determine Alzheimer’s disease progression.
However, there does seem to be a set of stages that people go through, although not everyone progresses through each stage, and some may experience mixed symptoms, as its progression is on a time continuum. The following seven stages are often described by patients and their physicians.
In this stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, individuals are unlikely to experience any memory or cognitive impairments. The effects of Alzheimer’s disease are not evident to the patient, their physician, or their family and friends. At this stage, it is impossible to decipher if a person has Alzheimer’s disease, because nothing has been affected.
In this stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, small impairments are becoming noticeable, though few people actually become diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease because the symptoms are very similar to age related changes. People may experience short memory lapses, mild word aphasia, misplacement of everyday belongings such as eye glasses and keys. Although the individual notices some decline in cognition, it is not apparent to those around them.
In this stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, some people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, although it is rare. At this stage, friends and family begin to notice a decline in memory function and begin to notice some personality changes. Individuals may experience difficulties with word aphasia, difficulty remembering names of new acquaintances, difficulty retaining written material, and lack of ability in planning or organization.
In this stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, the disease becomes evident to everyone around the individual. People with the disease experience decreased connection with current events due to memory problems, inability to perform challenging mathematical tasks, reduced memory about personal information, increased anxiety in social situations, and decreased ability to perform tasks such as accounting and finance management.
In this stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, individuals are unable to function without assistance. They forget important information such as address and phone number, and become confused about their surroundings. They often have difficulty remembering the date, day of the week or month. Major lapses in memory become apparent. They tend to retain names and knowledge of people close to them, but they have difficulty remembering newly acquired information.
In this stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, individuals need help with most daily functions, and they are often not functional in public situations. Personality changes become evident and they may develop unexpected and unexplained hostilities. They are able to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces, but they frequently wander off and get lost if they are not being cared for. This stage is marked by urinary and fecal incontinence, and they are unable to perform such functions without the help of others. Many people refer to people in this stage as lost or confused most of the time, although they have periods of full consciousness, but they are unable to recall it at a later time.
In this final stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, many individuals enter a catatonic-like state, and they are suffering from the worst effects of Alzheimer’s disease. They lose their ability to speak and respond to others, though occasionally words may be uttered. They are unable to sit up, smile, swallow, hold their head up, and their reflexes become abnormal and muscles get rigid. Eventually this stage leads to death, typically about eight years after they were diagnosed with the disease.
The stages aforementioned are generalized, and individuals will typically experience differences in Alzheimer’s disease progression. It is a devastating disease that is currently irreversible, though science may provide an explanation and cure in the future. The progression of Alzheimer’s disease is on a continuum, and is present long before symptoms become noticeable. It is suggested that a person contact their physician if they experience any of the discussed symptoms, in order to determine the causes and possible treatments.