Alzheimer’s is fast becoming the leading cause of death in the over-65 age category and researchers have found themselves in a race against time to find out how to stop it.
These are the 7 stages of this deadly disease:
This is purely physiological; in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s there is little to no noticeable cognitive impairment. However, inside the brain tiny clusters of tau protein are beginning to build up in the amygdala area of the brain.
There is still no obvious change in behaviour or memory impairment. Some mild memory loss may be taking place, but this is usually associated with general fatigue or common age-related impairments.
In some people early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed. It is at this stage that symptoms may begin to be detected by family and friends as a person struggles to find certain words or names and frequently loses or misplaces objects.
By now, a person is unable to remember a recent event which also extends to the loss of memory of the person’s own family history. They will also be unable to plan an event or effectively run a household by remembering a shopping list or to pay the bills.
There are significant gaps in memory at this stage, and assistance is required for daily tasks and activities. An individual could forget simple information such as their address and telephone number, what high school they attended or what day of the week or month it is.
Memory loss is severe, but they may still retain some deeply etched memories. They may forget names of their spouse and children although they still recall familiar faces. Sundowning and wandering may become a problem.
Severe cognitive decline sets in at the last stage. An individual will lose their ability to respond to their environment, smile, speak or control their movements. They will need help with all daily tasks and will not be able to eat by themselves or sit without support. Eventually the individual will have difficulty swallowing and will possibly need to be fed intravenously.