Understanding the stages of Alzheimer’s
Reportedly, over five million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association has created a checklist of the usual symptoms to help you identify the warning signs. Among these are changes in memory that interfere with daily life, difficulty planning and resolving problems, becoming disoriented regarding time and place and having issues with words when communicating verbally or in writing.
The seven stages of Alzheimer’s were created by Barry Reisberg, M.D., clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center. The first stage is one in which there are no symptoms of dementia. The second stage is marked by a very mild cognitive decline, including memory lapses, forgetfulness of words and loss of the ability to find everyday objects.
The third stage consists of mild cognitive decline in which friends, family members or co-workers start to become aware of challenges, including recalling names, thinking of the correct word or name and losing valuable objects. The fourth stage involves moderate cognitive decline, in which a medical interview should detect forgetfulness of recent occurrences and increased difficulty carrying out complicated tasks.
The fifth stage is marked by moderately severe cognitive decline, in which there are clear gaps in memory and thinking, and the person starts to require assistance with daily activities. During this stage, those afflicted with Alzheimer’s may not remember their own address or telephone number, or the academic institutions from which they graduated. They may also become confused about their location or what day it is.
In the sixth stage, their memory loss becomes worse, and they may experience changes in personality. When they are in the seventh stage, they have very severe cognitive decline, in which they are no longer able to respond to their environment, have a conversation or control their movements.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are strategies that can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, including control of blood pressure, weight and cholesterol; exercising body and mind; consuming a brain-health diet consisting of fruits and vegetables; and being socially active.
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