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Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia (Neurocognitive Disorder), a disease of progressive decline in one or more areas of brain function. The primary early sign for this type of dementia is difficulty retaining newly learned information. This lies in contrast to older memories, which remain in place for much longer during the disease.
The stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory troubles appear in multiple behaviors. People repeat the same questions, misplace objects, have problems finding words, and get lost. A patient’s judgment may also falter, and they will have trouble making decisions. They can also seem listless and unmotivated to engage in their previous hobbies and pastimes. Memory problems are also frequently accompanied by changes in behavior and mood, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability. For many people, these are the most stressful parts of the disease.
As the disease progresses, patients will need more attention and help from caregivers. Memory loss worsens and communication skills become more impaired. People get lost during conversations, find it difficult to stay on track, and become frustrated more easily because of this. Actions that require several steps, such as paying a bill, cooking a meal, or getting dressed become increasingly difficult. People begin to have problems identifying family and friends who they have known for a long time. Their moods become more variable, and their behavior can be odd and unpredictable. Patients may start to hallucinate, seeing or hearing things that are not real, or become anxious because they forget where they are or who is taking care of them.
In the final stages of the Alzheimer’s Disease, people become progressively less mobile and often become bed-bound. This decreased mobility, combined with incontinence, leads to skin sores and infections. They have a lot of trouble communicating as their vocabulary and speech fully deteriorate. They have difficulty eating and progressively lose weight. Problems with eating and swallowing contribute the most common cause of death, pneumonia.