Also known as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease manifests mostly through memory loss episodes. It is a progressive, irreversible condition that gets worse with time. There is no cure as we speak, and although studies have been carried, there is no known cause, either. Besides being such a severe, challenging condition, not only for the sufferers but also for those who take care of them, this condition also seems to be surrounded by misconceptions that do not serve anyone.
Common myths about Alzheimer’s disease
Knowing what the condition is about will provide you with actionable information on how to take care of a patient in the best manner possible. Here are some common myths about dementia you should know.
- The disease only affects old people – while it is true that the condition seems to manifest mostly after the age of 65, there is such a thing as early onset of Alzheimer’s disease that can occur even in people who are only 30 years old.
- A diagnosis equals a death sentence – the disease is untreatable, but with the help of some Alzheimer’s supplements and proper care and understanding, patients can still lead a meaningful life for many years.
- It’s in the genes – according to studies, only 5% of newly diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s disease have a parent with the same condition, so the genetic link is pretty shaky.
- Anyone with memory loss problems has this condition – memory loss is one of the symptoms, but not the only one, and you cannot put a direct connection between the two.
- Exposure to aluminum can cause this condition – so far, all the studies that have been carried on the topic proved no such connection.
- One can prevent getting the disease – some form of prevention is possible, but all you can do is to reduce the risk and not stop the disease completely; keeping up with a healthy lifestyle can reduce getting ill, as a general rule.
- Everyone is equally exposed to the risk – it looks like this is not true, as twice as many female patients are diagnosed with this condition, compared to men; why this happens is still a topic for debate and study.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Everybody knows that this disease comes accompanied by memory loss, hence the reason why many people tend to put the equal sign between the two, which is not indicated since this condition can manifest in other ways, too. Let’s have a look at the most common symptoms of this disease that can be recognized.
– Memory loss – it must be listed first, as it is the most common; as soon as you notice a loved one starting to repeat the same question over and over again, on a regular basis, a visit to the doctor is in order.
– A decline of cognitive skills – making simple math operations, and problem-solving as a whole, take a hit, and that can be a sign of the onset of the disease.
– Simple chores end up taking a lot of time – in the early stages, these episodes may be rare; but, later, such manifestations can end up in the inability to move; you might have to consider a travel wheelchair as a means of transportation for the patient.
– Losing track of space and time – people living with dementia can start talking about people who are no longer alive, or act as they live in a different time and place.
– Affected eyesight – while this can be difficult to peg as a symptom of Alzheimer’s, it can accompany the condition.
– Conversations become a chore – people with Alzheimer’s tend to forget words, and their vocabulary ends up being limited; they can also manifest increased frustration with their inability to communicate.
– Unwillingness to perform hygiene-related tasks – if you care for someone with this condition, it would be a good idea to invest in a bath seat for elderly citizens so that you can help him or her still take care of such aspects with the minimum amount of discomfort.
– Mood swings become the norm – unfortunately, this condition affects the sufferer’s personality, and that can result in mood changes that are difficult to deal with for those around.
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
Since this condition is progressive, it goes through various stages until reaching the final one. Understanding these stages will offer you the possibility to prepare for the evolution of the disease more efficiently.
- The no cognitive decline stage – during this phase, the condition cannot be detected, and there are no symptoms to give it away. There are no memory loss episodes, and the patient cannot yet be diagnosed with the disease.
- The stage of the first forgetfulness episodes – while this disease has other symptoms besides memory loss, the earliest stages will most manifest through this type of cognitive decline. The sign is so mild that it is difficult to notice.
- The phase of decreased performance when dealing with simple tasks – now the symptoms become more noticeable as the patient begins to experience troubles with even the most common problems that require basic cognitive skills, such as paying the bills.
- The moderate cognitive decline stage – throughout the first stages, the person is not even considered to have dementia. When moderate decline begins to occur, a diagnosis becomes possible. All the above symptoms become more accentuated, and the sufferer tends to withdraw from the social life.
- The severe memory loss stage – in this stage, the sufferer forgets how to perform even the most basic and starts to need assistance in all aspects of life.
- The severe cognitive decline stage – the above symptoms are now accompanied by more severe manifestations. Incontinence, inability to use speech, as well as anxiety and agitation become the norm.
- The late-stage Alzheimer’s disease – this is the stage when the person can no longer perform any task and needs assistance with every aspect of his or her life. The sufferer has no mobility, cannot speak, and overall continuous care is necessary. Hospice care is recommended for this stage.