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Stages of Alzheimer’s

Dementia is the term for a decline in mental ability which is severe enough to interfere with everyday life. It is not a normal part of aging. It is caused by physical changes in the brain that damage brain cells. This causes people to lose ability to communicate and think effectively, and to have changes to behaviour and feelings. There are many types of dementia and Alzheimer’s is the most common as it accounts for 60-80% of all diagnoses. Alzheimer’s is the disease, whereas dementia is the umbrella term used to describe a collection of symptoms related to memory, language and decision-making.

Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that changes the brain and eventually affects all aspects of a person’s life. Each person is affected differently and the order or speed they progress through the stages are difficult to predict. There are some warning signs to look for during the stages as documented by

Early stage: A person at this stage is fully aware of the condition and needs minimal help. Symptoms are mild and may include:

  • Hard time coming up with right word or remembering names when introduced to new people

  • Difficulty performing tasks, losing or misplacing items, and some behavioural changes

Middle stage: More assistance is needed to help the person at this stage. Symptoms are moderate and may include:

  • Being forgetful of personal events and experiencing confusion about where they live

  • Feeling moody or withdrawn and more severe personality and behavioural changes

  • Having trouble controlling bladder

  • Changes in sleep patterns

  • Increased tendency to wander and get lost

Late stage: Once the person reaches this stage, they will require full-time care as they are not able to take care of themselves. Symptoms in this stage include:

  • Low awareness of recent experiences or their surroundings

  • Changes in physical abilities including walking, sitting, and eventually swallowing

  • Difficulty communicating

  • Become vulnerable to infections and pneumonia

End-of-life: Cognitive decline has progressed to the point where the person needs 24-hour care. The focus shifts to palliative care and comfort to ensure quality of death.

Healthy Brain and Alzheimer's disease brain

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