Alzheimer’s is a serious and sometimes aggressive form of dementia that will eventually rob the patient of cognitive and physical abilities, and complications often arise that can also lead to death.
While there are treatments that can slow down the progression, there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it tends to follow a particular pattern from initial symptoms to the end result. If you’re the patient, you may be aware of your illness for the first few stages, but won’t know you’re sick by the end. Here are the seven steps to expect if you’re caring for someone with the disease…
1. Preclinical Alzheimer’s
Healthline.com says the first stage of Alzheimer’s is not very much like dementia at all. In fact, at this point you may only know about your risk (or a loved one’s risk) of developing Alzheimer’s based on family history. “Or your doctor may identify biomarkers that indicate your risk,” it adds.
You will be interviewed by a doctor about your memory if you’re at risk, but there probably aren’t any noticeable symptoms at this first stage – “which can last for years or decades,” notes the source.
2. Very Mild Decline
Alzheimers.net explains that after the first stage has passed, you or the family member will start to notice some problems (that some seniors may confuse for normal memory loss). They include things like forgetting where they put their car keys, nothing too alarming, notes the source.
In fact, even at this stage doctors will have a hard time pinpointing the problem, it adds. The disease is not yet to the point where “the memory loss can easily be distinguished from normal age related memory loss,” explains the site, noting patients will likely still do well on memory tests.
3. Mild Cognitive Decline
AgingCare.com explains that the 3rd-stage of this brain disease can turn up symptoms in some patients, but not in others. By this point, the patient may have stumbled when trying to recall names, or being able to find the right word for things. These symptoms include “decreased ability to remember names of newly introduced people,” it adds.
The individual may also display “unusual” performance issues at work or in social settings, or have a problem planning and organizing. If you notice a number of these symptoms happening at the same time, it’s definitely time to visit a doctor for an assessment.