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E-Quipped to... Suss out the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Did you forget that November is Alzheimer’s Awareness month?
Yes? Then this newsletter is for YOU….
Ha! Just kidding!
Seriously though, despite the fact that Alzheimer’s is the topic of many jokes about forgetfulness and memory loss, most people don’t even know the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s dementia. And they certainly don’t know what to expect when it comes to how the disease progresses.
So What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Dementia?
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that causes the brain to physically atrophy. It can occur in middle or old age and results in symptoms of forgetfulness and cognitive impairment known as dementia.
For more about dementia please read my article: Diagnosing Dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia caused by Alzheimer’ disease is known as ‘Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type’, or simply ‘Alzheimer’s’.
How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Progress?
Every person with Alzheimer’s disease experiences the disease differently, but there does seem to be a similar progression of the disease for most patients and it can be described in a series of stages. The precise number of stages is somewhat arbitrary. Some experts use a simple three-stage model (mild/early; moderate/middle; severe/late), while others use a five, six or seven stage model.
It is important to be aware that the stages don't always fall into neat boxes. As mentioned above, each individual with Alzheimer’s progresses differently - cognitive, physical, and functional phases often overlap, the time in each stage varies widely from patient to patient, and not everyone experiences all Alzheimer’s symptoms. The stages do, however, provide a general guideline for understanding the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms and for planning appropriate care.
The most common system, developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University, breaks the progression of Alzheimer’s disease into seven stages. It is known as the Seven Stage Global Deterioration Scale, or the Reisberg Scale.
Seven Stage Global Deterioration Scale
Stage 1: No Impairment
During this stage, Alzheimer’s disease is not detectable and memory and cognitive abilities appear normal.
Stage 2: Minimal Impairment
The person may notice minor memory problems, such a forgetting a word or misplacing objects, but memory lapses and changes in thinking are rarely detected by friends, family, or medical personnel.
At this stage, the subtle symptoms of Alzheimer's don't interfere with a person’s ability to work or live independently.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment
At this stage memory and cognitive problems become noticeable. Performance on memory and cognitive tests are affected and physicians will be able to detect impaired cognitive function.
The person may consciously or subconsciously try to cover up his or her problems.
Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer’s
At this stage clear cut symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are apparent and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is possible.
Although most people in this stage still know themselves and their family, recent events and conversations are increasingly forgotten.
Stage 5: Early Dementia
During the fifth stage of Alzheimer’s, patients begin to need help with many day to day activities, although they maintain a modicum of functionality. Typically, they can still bath themselves and use the toilet independently. They usually still know their family members and some detail about their personal histories, especially their childhood and youth.
Stage 6: Middle Dementia
People in this stage progressively lose the ability to take care of daily living activities like dressing, toileting and eating, but are still able to respond to nonverbal stimuli, and communicate pleasure and pain via behaviour.
Patients with the sixth stage of Alzheimer’s disease need constant supervision and frequently require professional care.
Stage 7: Late or Severe Dementia
Because Alzheimer’s disease is a terminal illness, patients in stage seven are nearing death. Total support around the clock is needed for all functions of daily living and care.
For more detailed symptoms in each of the seven stages read: The Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
What do YOU Think?
Do you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease? Please share your experience of the stages they are going through.
Leave your comments here
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You may have been forwarded this email by a friend. In that case, allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychologist, speaker, trainer, coach and hat lover based in Durban, South Africa.
My goal is to inspire you to make the changes necessary to live the life of your dreams! I believe that by developing your YOU-Q - the term I have created to describe your unique intelligence, creativity and wisdom - you can find your Inner winner and live a Be-YOU-tiful life right now.
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