Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive neurological disorder associated with a gradual decline in mental and physical abilities. It is considered the most common form of dementia.
The symptoms are caused by damage to the brain, and as the damage spreads, patients experience more symptoms of greater severity. The progression of the disease can take years. On average, patients live for eight to 10 years after their symptoms become noticeable to other people.
Alzheimer’s symptoms vary among individuals, but in general, certain symptoms manifest after the disease has progressed to a certain point. The disease can, therefore, be split into three broad stages based on the symptoms: mild (early), moderate (middle stage), and severe (late or final) stage.
In the late or severe stage, patients experience not only a significant decline in mental function but also in physical capabilities. They are likely to need extensive full-time care and assistance to complete essential daily tasks such as eating, moving, dressing, and using the bathroom.
The common issues faced by patients in the severe stage are:
- Significant problems in both long and short term memory.
- A greater chance of experiencing hallucinations or delusions (believing things that aren’t true), and a potential increase in their severity.
- Significant changes to personality. The patient may become increasingly violent, demanding, and paranoid.
- Incontinence (unintentional passing of urine or stools).
- Weight changes, usually a considerable weight loss. However, some patients gain weight by excessive eating.
- Difficulty eating and swallowing (dysphagia).
- Inability to communicate coherently.
- Inability to walk without assistance. Patients may also be unable to sit or hold up their head without additional support.
- Lack of awareness of their surroundings.
People with late-stage Alzheimer’s are increasingly vulnerable to infections and pneumonia and may be unable to tell others they are feeling unwell. Therefore, these patients must be closely monitored for signs of illness.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.