Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects approximately 5.5 million Americans, more than 80% of which are age 65 and older. In 2050, experts and neurologist in Leesburg, VA project this number to rise to nearly 14 million.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is recognized as a progressive disease that deteriorates one’s cognitive functions. It is the most common type of dementia —a general term for a decline in mental abilities. Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s experience reduced ability to:
- speak or express themselves
- solve problems
- among others
Although it has no known cure at the moment, expert diagnosis and consultations with neurologists at the onset of the disease can significantly help address its symptoms before it gets worse.
3 General Phases of Alzheimer’s: Overview and Symptoms
The first step to managing Alzheimer’s is knowing how it progresses. There are three general stages of Alzheimer’s disease: mild or early stage, moderate or middle stage, and severe or late stage.
- Mild Alzheimer’s
In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, a person may experience memory loss and cognitive difficulties. Reduced mental ability may manifest in the performance of daily activities, such as trouble handling money or often getting lost. Its symptoms include:
- Memory loss – difficulty in remembering conversations and events that recently occurred
- Difficulty putting thoughts into words–an inclination to stutter or mumble when speaking
- Mood swings–may involve irritability, depression, and extreme moodiness
- Sudden lethargy–lack of interest to engage in important activities which can include work and social activities
- Mild muscle coordination problems–difficulty in writing and/or using familiar everyday objects
At this stage, however, it’s also important to know that even when a person has one of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she has Alzheimer’s. Other medical conditions that are associated with some of these symptoms can include:
- Effects from drug abuse
- Thyroid or glandular problems
To determine if it is Alzheimer’s, it’s essential to visit a neurologist in Leesburg to get a proper diagnosis.
- Moderate Alzheimer’s
In this stage, damage occurs in areas of the brain that control reasoning, language, conscious thought, and sensory processing. Its symptoms include:
- Rambling speech–slurring or difficulty in enunciating words
- Difficulty in problem-solving and planning–can include solving mathematical problems and planning family events
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Mild delusions–inclination to think that a caregiver or people around them are trying to hurt them
- Confusion of time and place–may forget where they are or get lost in places they’ve been before
The moderate stage of Alzheimer’s is also the stage where people forget certain details of their own lives. They may forget when they got married, where they live, or where they went to school. Individuals suffering from this condition may also not recognize family members and friends.
- Severe Alzheimer’s
In this stage, the brain tissues shrink significantly. Individuals on this last stage may become bedridden as the body shuts down. Its symptoms include:
- Severe confusion–the inability to process information
- Inability to distinguish past from present
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Bladder and bowel complications
- Visual and/or auditory hallucinations
- Extreme mood swings–easily agitated when provoked and extreme mood swing
Dulles neurology specialists recognize this as the worst stage. Extreme personality shifts are seen and may require extensive support to perform everyday activities as they cannot move on their own. Verbal communication is still possible in this stage but can be difficult due to their disorientation.
Spot the Warning Signs Before It’s Too Late
Keep your loved ones safe and healthy by looking out for any these symptoms. If you or someone you know have these symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact a neurologist in Leesburg, VA right away to get a proper diagnosis.