Alzheimer’s and dementia: symptoms in the course

According to the German Alzheimer’s Association, 100 people develop dementia every day in Germany. Alzheimer’s begins slowly: the disease changes people in these seven stages.

Alzheimer’s and dementia: Dementia is the generic term for clinical pictures that are associated with the loss of mental functions such as thinking, memory and orientation. The fact that memory problems occur with increasing age is initially a normal biological aging process, which does not say anything about whether a serious illness actually exists.
Alzheimer’s disease is like a special form of dementia. There are also other forms of dementia such as vascular dementia or Lewy body dementia. Only the doctor can determine whether and which form of dementia is present and recommend therapy based on this.

The seven levels presented by the Alzheimer’s Association are based on a system developed by Barry Reisberg. He is the clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center. However, the stages of the disease can overlap, making it difficult to differentiate clearly.

Photo series with 10 pictures

Alzheimer’s stage one: No significant impairments

In the first stage, the patient shows no symptoms for dementia,

Alzheimer’s stage two: It all starts with memory gaps

Only from the second stage onwards do affected persons show a slightly reduced perception. These signs can also be attributed to an age-related change. For example, things are misplaced more often or the person can complain about individual memory gaps. Word-finding disorders are also a typical symptom in this phase of the disease. However, the doctor cannot yet identify any symptoms of dementia.

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Alzheimer’s stage three: Forget words

At this stage of the disease, those affected have increasing difficulty finding their way around. This makes it harder for them to remember the right word or name. They develop problems when performing tasks in a social or work environment or forget content that they have just read.

From Alzheimer’s level four it gets serious

From this stage of the disease, a careful consultation with a doctor is recommended. Possible symptoms of progressive dementia are:

  • Forget about recent events
  • Problems with solving arithmetic problems, for example counting down in larger numbers
  • Difficulty performing more complex tasks such as planning a meal invitation
  • Forgetfulness about one’s past

At this stage of dementia, the person affected clearly notices that something is wrong with him and that he is becoming increasingly forgetful. This awareness of one’s own mental degradation often leads to depression and a social withdrawal in the course of the illness.

Alzheimer’s level five: Disoriented in time and space

From the fifth stage of the disease, the disorders increase and the sick mostly need help in everyday life. For example, many can no longer remember their own address and suffer from massive disorientation in terms of time and place. You can no longer choose clothing appropriate to the weather. Mental arithmetic is now even more difficult, simple tasks can no longer be solved. However, people with dementia are still able to eat independently and use the toilet at this level.

Alzheimer’s level six: Man becomes a care case

The one Alzheimer Sick people now need comprehensive help and can no longer live alone. Some sufferers can now:

  • not correctly perceive recent events
  • No longer distinguish familiar faces from strangers
  • Need help getting dressed
  • Determine changes in sleeping behavior
  • Need help going to the toilet
  • Have problems with bladder and bowel control
  • Have a tendency to wander around
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It also often happens that the character and behavior of the patient change. Typical personality changes include, for example, distrust of others or compulsive, repeated actions such as wrestling with your hands.

No more interaction in Alzheimer’s level seven

The seventh stage of the disease is the sad end stage of this disease: the person affected can no longer communicate with his surroundings. He can no longer have a conversation. The ability to smile, keep your head straight or sit upright also disappears. Another symptom of progressive dementia at this stage is that the muscles freeze and the swallowing becomes increasingly difficult. The sick person is a difficult case of care that overwhelms the relatives. Many therefore seek external help with care or choose a nursing home for their relatives.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia

Age is the most important risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Over the years, protein deposits in the brain (plaques) can damage the nerve cells, resulting in changes in thinking, acting and perceiving.

In addition to the aging process and genetic factors, cardiovascular diseases also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s, as that brain is supplied with oxygen and important nutrients via the bloodstream. Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and being overweight also increase the risk of illness.

Alzheimer’s disease usually affects older people in particular. However, there are variants that are already evident in 20-year-olds. The cause is then mutations of the so-called presenilin genes. However, this family burden occurs extremely rarely.

Diabetes is also related Alzheimer discussed. Research has shown that decreased body cell response to insulin is associated with poor memory performance. Depression, lack of sleep and serious head injuries are also considered possible risk factors.

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Important NOTE: The information is by no means a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The content of cannot and must not be used to independently diagnose or start treatment.

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