Hawkeye News

News week of Tuesday, Nov. 27th

Alzheimer's Disease

What is Alzheimer's ?

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive mental deterioration of the brain occurring in middle or old age. 1 out of 8 Americans have Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Disease Video

What is Alzheimer's disease?


Stages of Alzheimer's

Stage 1

Not much occurs in stage 1 of Alzheimer's. No impairment or memory loss is present and even medical professionals do not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia.

Stage 2

In Stage 2 of Alzheimer's disease, memory problems are now more obvious to others. Because its difficult for people with Alzheimer's to retain new information, they may lose the thread of conversations. They sometimes have difficulty recalling current events, such as who the president is, and even bits of information from their own personal history, such as where they attended school. Their ability to perform mathematical calculations suffers, and they may no longer be able to manage their own finances. Depression often becomes prominent at this stage, further hampering the ability to function. Impaired reasoning and judgment make traveling more difficult. Although people at this stage may be able to find their way around familiar areas, their ability to handle unexpected events is impaired, making driving risky. In addition, dishonest people can now more easily victimize them. People with Stage 2 Alzheimer's can have a striking lack of insight into their problems. They may refuse any assistance with finances, but forget to pay bills; insist on driving, but have a series of fender-benders; continue to cook, but repeatedly scorch empty pots on the stove.

Stage 3

In Stage 3 of Alzheimer's disease, memory can fluctuate daily or even hourly. People sometimes forget major events in their lives, and yet continue to deny having memory problems. As they try to fill memory gaps, their conversation may become disjointed and contain irrelevant content. Often they are unaware of the date or the time of year.The continuing deterioration of memory makes people feel insecure, which they may express with paranoia or anger. They may accuse others of hiding things, stealing, or plotting against them. Their emotions are unstable, and their relations with others may be marred by rapid mood swings that have no apparent cause. Episodes of crying, angry outbursts, and agitation may occur.At this stage, people with Alzheimer's are no longer able to survive without some assistance. Although able to manage many basic activities of daily living, such as using the toilet and eating, they only partially complete some tasks because they cannot remember all the steps involved. Their grooming and choice of clothes may be the most obvious sign of this difficulty. A simple decision, such as which sweater to wear, can be overwhelming.The decreased ability to think forces the person to withdraw from social activities that require active participation. Undemanding activities such as attending a concert may still be enjoyable, but going to a dinner party would be bewildering. The inability to handle potentially stressful situations causes anxiety, which can trigger catastrophic reactions such as shouting, cursing, or hitting others.

Stage 4

In the 4th stage of Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive decline starts to happen. This is when Alzheimer's can be easily detected through a medical interview At this point the individual starts to forget recent events and has decreased memory on personal experiences. People start to have impaired ability to preform abstract tasks, such as counting backwards from 100 in 7's. Greater difficulties preforming complex tasks like paying bills and managing finances. Lastly, the individual may experience mood swings or withdrawal, especially when it comes to socially or mentally challenging situations.

Stage 5

Gaps in the memory and thinking start to become noticeable in stage 5. The individual begins to need help with activities of daily living (ADL). Memory loss about what day, month, or year it is may occur; also what time. Simple tasks, become more difficult, like remember to take the trash out. Individual needs assistance with choosing the proper clothing for a special occasion or just for the season. This is also when the individual forgets there own address or phone number and where they even are currently. Mental tasks become more and more difficult, like counting to 100. The individual can still remember their own family and great details about themselves No assistance with eating or using the toilet is needed at this stage of Alzheimer's disease.

Stage 6

In stage 6 of Alzheimer's disease, memory continues to worsen, individuals need extensive helps with daily activities and personality changes may occur the individual loses awareness of recent experiences as well as there surroundings. They can still remember there own name but have difficulty with there history. they cant remember there spouses or caregivers names but can distinguish familiar and unfamiliar faces. They will need help dressing properly for example if they were left unsupervised they might try to put there pajamas over there day time clothes or they might put there shoes on the wrong feet. there sleeping patterns might change, they will sleep in the day and be restless at night. they will have understanding how to work a toilet and will need help flushing wiping or disposing of the tissue properly. They will have more accidents as they begin to have troubles controlling there bladder or bowels. They might experience major personality and behavioral changes, including speciousness and delusions such as believing that there caregiver or spouse is a impostor. Also they might form a compulsive habit such as tissue shredding or hand-wringing. At this stage people also tend to become lost and wander.

Stage 7

In the last stage, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment they will not be able to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. they still might be able to talk.as they needed help in earlier stages individuals will still need help with much of their daily personal care, including eating or using the toilet. They may also lose the ability to show emotions or to hold there own bodies up when sitting. Reflexes become abnormal, Muscles grow rigid, Swallowing impaired, and death is soon to come.