5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and approximately 390,000 of them live in Texas and about 64,000 in the Greater Dallas area alone. Shockingly, Texas ranks fourth in the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases and second in the number of Alzheimer’s disease deaths. What’s more, one in every ten Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s, and as the population ages, this number is expected to quadruple. This proves that Alzheimer’s is a growing epidemic and needs to be addressed.
Often, it is difficult to diagnose early onset Alzheimer’s because the signs of Alzheimer’s mimic normal aging. According to The Alzheimer’s Association, there are three main phases of Alzheimer’s disease (AD): mild, moderate, and severe. Each stage has its own set of symptoms.
This is the first stage of AD. The person with mild Alzheimer disease will start having the basic symptoms of very slight cognitive decline, such as:
- Difficulty in putting their thoughts into words or understanding other people.
- Loss of recent memory like difficulty in remembering new names of person introduced or events that just happened.
- Getting lost on familiar routes.
- Less interest in social activities or work.
- Difficulty in reading.
- Losing or misplacing keys, eye-glasses or other valuable objects.
- Problem in planning, organizing, or doing everyday tasks.
These symptoms may not be evident to family, friends, or coworkers. They may be ignored or termed as old age-related changes.
At this stage, memory loss gets worse and begins to affect the daily life of the patient. Family members should start putting on more attention to the patient since he or she suffers from major gaps in memory and deficits in cognitive function. The symptoms of this phase are:
- Difficulty in doing complex tasks.
- Reduced memory of personal history, though, they may retain important knowledge about themselves like knowing their own name and the names of their spouse or children.
- Feeling of solitude and isolation as the affected individual feels subdued and withdrawn.
- Expressing lots of confusion as to why they are here, what were they doing and what date it is or even matter of fact what season it is.
- Need help in dressing for the season or the occasion
- Trouble with mental arithmetic; thus, handling financial activity could be a strain.
- Getting easily upset or angry.
- Trouble sleeping
- Delusions, such as thinking a caregiver is trying to hurt him
Some people with moderate Alzheimer’s also become aware that they’re losing control of their lives, which can make them even more frustrated or depressed.
This is the most severe phase of AD, it is also known as late Alzheimer’s. The patient loses most of his or her abilities and muscles, as well as nerves, start degenerating. Severe AD typically lasts one to three years. Patients in this phase might experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Major state of confusion: can’t tell what’s in the past and what’s happening now.
- Can’t express themselves, remember their personal history, or process information.
- Weight loss, seizures, skin infections, and other illnesses.
- Extreme mood swings.
- Unable to control movement and instant responses: need help with basic activities like eating, bathing and toileting.
- Loose ability to walk without assistance, as stage deteriorates, the patient also loses the ability to sit without support.
Presently, there are no treatments that will completely cure Alzheimer’s or slow down its gradual progression. However, there are a number of FDA-approved medications that can be used to relieve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease