Toone, (2005), describes Alzheimer's disease is a gradual progressive degenerative illness of the brain that is distinguished by loss of memory and finally disturbances in reasoning, language, planning and acuity. Scientists believe that Alzheimers's disease is as a result of build up of beta-amyloid protein in the brain that results to death of nerve cells. In the course of development of the disease plaques and tangles increase in the brain structure resulting to the death of brain cells.
According to (Lawlor, 2005), the disease was first described by a German neuropathologist and doctor of psychiatry, Alois Alzheimer in 1906 and the disease was named after him. Dimentia is the medical term used to express the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by definite illnesses and conditions. People suffering from Alzheimer's also have a shortage of some vital chemicals that are involved in messages transfer within the brain.
Alzheimer's disease is irreparable and, continuous brain disease, which gradually damage, the memory and thinking cells and finally lead to affect the capability to perform even the simplest tasks. According to (Ferrell, 2005), in majority of the patients symptoms of Alzheimer's begin to show up after 60years. Alzheimer's disease is a kind of dementia which is more three times more widespread in women than men. About ten percent of 65year old women and over 50% of women older than 85years have the dementia. Alzheimer's disease involves the existence of mind cognitive impairments (MCIs). Mind cognitive impairments can be recognized when sufferers are in the fifties, although 30-50% with these symptoms develops Alzheimer's disease.
What are the common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?
The beginning of Alzheimer's disease is normally steady and slowly progressive. It starts with losses of memory which is dismissed by family members at first as a normal part of aging. It is after the patients show other thinking problems and in addition to memory loss that family members deduce there is something more than normal aging. Memory loss problems especially in short-term is among the early stage of Alzheimer's disease.
The disease progresses through a three stage but the symptoms vary in severity and timing they may overlap and change, the overall development of the disease can be forecast. On average patients live eight to ten years after being detected with Alzheimer's disease although people can also live up 20years with the disease. Alzheimer's disease affects people in stages which are depicted by the following symptoms;
Do Alzheimer's suffers undergo stages during progression of Alzheimer's condition?
Mild Initial Stage. This stage can last two to four years. In the early stages, patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease have a tendency to be less vigorous and spontaneous. The early stages of Alzheimer's disease can be faint and difficult to identify. It is recognized from the normal aging signs by onset loss of sharp thinking and memory loss and loss of cognitive functions. Among the symptoms in the early stages of Alzheimer's include; misunderstanding about place and time. According to (Matthews, 2008), among the early signs of Alzheimer's is regular confusion about the day, time, or place. Loss of date and time awareness in more frequent in aged people particularly those with no fixed daily schedule. Griffith, & Yoder, (2006), suggest that elders who get confused about time, day and place, need to be checked for Alzheimer's disease.
Aged people suffering from Alzheimer's disease begin to get short-term loss of memory. In the afternoon, according to (Toone, 2000), Alzheimer's patients may fail to remember what happened in the morning or a person may redo a task that he has just finished since he has no memory of having already done it. Persons with Alzheimer's in the early stages often find it difficult to write a cheque, count correct amount of bills to pay at shops or even change channels on television or radio.
According to (Griffith,& Yoder 2006), Alzheimer's suffers are prone to make illogical and senseless choices and conclusions such as putting a heavy rain coat to go out on a hot sunny day, getting stripped for bed immediately after taking breakfast or stacking ten loaves of bread in a trolley basket during shopping. Alzheimer's suffers experience mood changes and sometimes may lose their normal traits. Such people according to (Matthews, 2008), may become temperamental, restless and irritable for no particular reason and might be unable to concentrate on anything or become unresponsive to the environment. Mood changes tend to occur mostly and acutely at dust as phenomenon referred by doctors as “sundowning.” The early mild stage takes about 2-4 years.
Moderate stage. This stage lasts 2-10years and during this stage patients can no longer cover problems. Elders in the middle stage of Alzheimer's might suffer a more intense version of early stage symptoms and also start to show new symptoms. Among the common symptoms at middle stage include; confusion about persons, place and time-elders confusion about places dates and time becomes worse. This situation is further complicated by the inability of the Alzheimer's sufferer to identify other people. According to (Mega, et al. 2006), Alzheimer's patients will jumble names and identities as the disease progresses and eventually the sufferer no longer identify even the most familiar faces.
Short-term loss of memory which starts in the early stages of the disease becomes acute. Alzheimer's sufferers in the middle stages may memorize very little they have recently done and eventually long-term memory is also affected. Alzheimer's patients often transpose events and people forming a hodgepodge of current recollections and childhood memories which they are unable to sort out.
Alzheimer's sufferers in the middle stage have a trend of travelling away from or from a companion on outing and get lost. This creates great apprehension and difficulty for the patient and the caregiver if the person ends up in a strange location. In addition, patients lose simple logic matters and are unable to move from one simple idea to the next or even to figure out the basic stages to follow in order to complete a task. According to (Matthews, 2008), Alzheimer's patients may not understand that a door needs to be unlocked before it can be opened.
As Alzheimer's progresses patients lose their capability to communicate well. Research by, (Paulsen, R. E et al. 2005) show that patients in the middle stages will have difficulty even in selecting simple words and might use words incorrectly and have a likelihood of having difficulty in reading. In the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease, patients begin to exhibit lack of ability to think and understand, and in addition, lose hand-eye organization thus making simple tasks hard for them. Patients may have problems with in balancing which can result to dangerous falls and they might become incontinent.
Alzheimer's patients in the middle stage, often undergo frequent change of moods and emotions, from deep sadness to high good humor, and form extreme anger to over-romanticizing. At this stage, Alzheimer's also exhibit an impulsive and unexpected ways, which include; loud talking or shouting, disrobing, arguing, touching others and involvement in other antisocial or embarrassing behaviours.
According to (Cithoke, 2004), Alzheimer's show paranoid behaviour, displaying fear and mistrust to strangers, caregivers or even to family members. Alzheimer's patient might also start to witness visual or audio hallucinations- i.e. they may begin to hear or see things which are not actually there, this can be disturbing to the patient and caregivers.
Severe stage or late stage. This stage lasts one to three or more years. During this stage patients become confused about current or past events. The patients also exhibit lack of identification of familiar places and people. The patients encounter complete loss of verbal skills and are unable to care for themselves. According to (Sadowski & Wisniewski, 2004) during this stage patients are likely to fall while trying to walk since they have poor coordination. Patients in addition witness problems swallowing complications and inconsistence. In this stage patients undergo extreme temper changes, hallucinations and disorientation. (Griffith & Yoder, 2006), suggest that at this stage patients require total support and care and in most cases die from infections or pneumonia.
Many problems can be attributed to the development of memory problems and dementia, with Alzheimer's being one of the conditions (Cithoke, 2004) adds. Decrease in the intellectual functioning which considerably obstructs the normal social interactions and daily tasks is a feature of dementia that is caused by Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease and a series of small stokes in the brain are the causes of majority of dementia in the aged.
Perlmutter & Colman, (2005), suggest that Alzheimer's patients require a comfortable environment such as a home better than to elders with other physical problems. A familiar family surrounding offers a sense stability and well being. According to (Ferrell, 2005), a spouse can become a main care giver and in places where adult grandchildren live nearby they can provide such assistance. Caring for Alzheimer's sufferer requires a caring and comforting personality and the capability to sort through the working of puzzled mind.
Health care providers and government health agencies should educate the general public on the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's dementia so that it can be recognized at an early stage. In elderly people, when family and friends note frequent memory loss that affect their daily tasks they need to seek qualified professional advice by a physician with wide knowledge experience and interest in Alzheimer's and memory problems. In addition, families of Alzheimer's sufferers should ensure they maintain extensive interlinking of support groups of people with Alzheimer's disease through which sufferers can share their frustrations, anger, and coping devices with others who are in the same stages of the disease.
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