Understanding Alzheimer’s

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For generations, memory loss and senility were considered part of the normal aging process. Forgetting names and confusing dates and addresses were seen as a part of "growing old." Today, we know memory loss and confusion can be signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, affects memory, thinking and other mental abilities. The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not entirely known, but certain factors, such as age, genetics or medical history can increase your risk. Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly and worsens over time. While there is no cure for the condition, there are treatments to help manage the symptoms.

 

Warning signs

Alzheimer’s affects each person differently, but there are common warning signs. If you or a loved one shows any these warning signs, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with your health care provider to discuss it further. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the easier it is to manage.

The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 warning signs:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and relationships between objects (spatial relationships)
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Learn more about Alzheimer’s stages.

Stages

Doctors have divided Alzheimer’s into three stages: mild, moderate and severe. These stages are rough guides to help you and your loved ones understand the progression of the disease.

Stage 1: Mild

Alzheimer’s disease is often diagnosed in the mild/early stage. In this stage, it is clear the person is having trouble with memory, concentration or planning.

Stage 2: Moderate

During the moderate/middle stage, people grow more confused and forgetful. They begin to need help with day-to-day activities.

Stage 3: Severe

In the severe/late stage of Alzheimer’s, mental function continues to decline. The disease has a growing impact on conversation, control of movement and daily personal care.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s stages.

Care

Alzheimer’s is different for each person, so there is no single approach to care. Depending upon the symptoms and progression of the disease, care can include help with day-to-day tasks, anticipating and responding to certain behaviors, or making decisions regarding care or finances.

Learn more about caring for Alzheimer’s.

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