What Are the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia. It involves the loss of cognitive function. While we are still unable to provide a complete solution to Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have made significant progress in developing different therapeutic aspects of care. Recently, researchers have discovered a protein that may help decrease the severity of Alzheimer’s. This protein is known as klotho. Klotho therapy holds the potential to help improve the impact of Alzheimer’s. High levels of klotho in the blood show longevity in animal studies, and these predictions carry over to humans as well. 

While there are many mysteries surrounding this disease, we have a good base understanding of each stage. This knowledge can help assist in managing the disease. Alzheimer’s Disease affects everyone differently. Discovering signs early can help patients make informed decisions about treatment and help doctors manage the severity of the condition. 

Here are seven steps of decline involved with Alzheimer’s disease and the symptoms that accompany them: 

  1. Outwardly Normal – Before symptoms appear, a person may be experiencing certain repercussions of Alzheimer’s 10-15 years before actual signs of symptoms. There is no current treatment for Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear, so it is important to keep up with regular primary care visits. Regular checkups allow for early detection. 
  2. Mild Changes – Forgetfulness is normal, and it happens naturally with age. It only becomes a problem when there are large memory lapses that gradually become more frequent over time. In most cases, a loved one will notice basic forgetfulness before the person who is experiencing these lapses does. If a person notices memory loss, it is important to consider consulting a doctor sooner than later. 
  3. Mild Decline – This is a point where it becomes harder to ignore lapses in memory. It includes things like having trouble remembering recently read material to forgetting daily plans and having trouble organizing your day. There may also be an increased difficulty in retrieving a name or common word. This stage often leads to an increase in anxiety and prolonged denial of the symptoms at hand. 
  4. Moderate Decline – In this step, memory loss is fully apparent. There is increased difficulty with language, organization, and calculations. At this stage, it may be easier for a person to remember instances from their past versus things that just happened. Individuals at this stage often are confused about what day it is and where they are. This stage could also involve significant changes in sleep patterns. 
  5. Moderately Severe Decline – This involves further progression that includes having a hard time remembering important people such as immediate family members. The most basic tasks can be a struggle. Things such as getting dressed or feeding yourself can become difficult. There can also be emotional changes, and in more severe cases there may be instances of hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. 
  6. Major Decline – This level of Alzheimer’s Disease impacts an individual’s ability to function on their own. They may develop issues with basic communication. Personality may change and result in things like anxiety. Medicine and behavioral therapy may be used to help ease the issues brought on by this stage.
  7. Very Severe Decline – Ultimately, Alzheimer’s Disease destroys brain cells. This can ultimately lead to severe mental and physical impairment. At this point, the individual will often be unable to care for themselves and will need around-the-clock care to maintain their safety and fulfill basic day-to-day functions. 

There Is Hope

All of the stages of Alzheimer’s come with their own difficulties. Luckily, when caught early, symptoms can be treated effectively. While things like klotho therapy are still in early studies, there is great promise that new research will provide hope for the future. 

Resources:

https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/neuroscience-blog/2019/november/stages-of-alzheimers

https://www.alzheimers.net/stages-of-alzheimers-disease/ 

https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/alzheimers-disease-stages#1 

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.