Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly damages and ultimately destroys brain cells, leading to the loss of memory and thinking skills and even the ability to carry out simple daily tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is not part of the normal aging process. It develops gradually over time and progressively gets worse as more brain cells die. Eventually, Alzheimer’s disease is fatal, and presently, there is no cure.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown; however, most experts agree that the disease develops as a result of multiple factors over a long period of time. The greatest risk factors are:
- Increasing age
- Family history
The Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Experts in Alzheimer’s disease have identified various stages of the disease to explain how a person’s cognitive abilities will change throughout the stages of Alzheimer’s.
Mild Alzheimer’s Disease
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, changes in memory and cognitive abilities are noticeable. Problems in this stage may include forgetfulness of recent events, difficulty in handling finances and paying bills or simply taking longer to complete daily activities. People with Alzheimer’s disease in this early stage may also be forgetful about their own personal history or have mood/personality changes, especially during socially challenging situations.
Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
Damage to the brain is more widespread at this stage and affects areas that are responsible for language, reasoning, sensory processing and conscious thought. Gaps in memory and confusion are noticeable and individuals may require help with daily tasks. Those in this stage of the disease may also become confused about what day of the week it is or what time it is, begin to have trouble recognizing family and friends or need help dressing appropriately.
Severe Alzheimer’s Disease
By the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the brain is damaged extensively. Individuals in this stage are completely dependent upon others for their care and experience significant personality and behavioral changes, which may include suspiciousness and delusions. They cannot communicate appropriately, lose awareness of the environment and, eventually, lose the ability to react to their surroundings.