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Diseases & Treatments

Alzheimer’s disease: Things to know

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WSB Channel 2 Atlanta
WSB Channel 2 Atlanta
 2021-06-07
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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization asks that people wear purple during the month to help shine a spotlight on the disease.

The Mayo Clinic says “Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die.”

As the disease progresses, patients become unable to care for themselves, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic says a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors can cause the condition to develop.

Stages

There are several stages of Alzheimer’s disease: preclinical, mild (or early-stage), moderate and severe (or late-stage), according to the National Institute on Aging.

As disease advances, patients will have increased memory loss and cognitive issues.

Symptoms

Mild Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include:

  • Memory loss.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Loss of spontaneity.
  • Longer to complete normal tasks.
  • Repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money, paying bills.
  • Wandering, getting lost.
  • Losing, misplacing items.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Increased aggression.

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include:

  • Increased memory loss.
  • Increased confusion.
  • Difficulty with language including reading, writing and working with numbers.
  • Difficulty thinking logically.
  • Shortened attention span.
  • Problems coping with new situations.
  • Difficulty doing tasks with multiple steps.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Delusions.
  • Paranoia.
  • Impulsive behavior.
  • Angry outbursts.
  • Restlessness.
  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Tearfulness.
  • Wandering.
  • Repetitive statements or movements.

Severe Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include:

  • Loss of communication.
  • Weight loss.
  • Seizures.
  • Skin infections.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Groaning, moaning or grunting.
  • Increased sleeping.
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control.

Symptoms for late-onset Alzheimers will start appearing in a person’s mid-60s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s starts between a person’s 30s and mid-60s. Normally the first sign is when a person has cognitive issues like finding the correct word, vision/spatial issues and impaired reasoning and judgment, according to the National Institute on Aging.

>>Related: How does Alzheimer’s disease kill you?

But the Alzheimer’s Association said the symptoms should not be confused with normal age-related changes.

Sometimes people will forget names or appointments but will remember them later. Or they may not be able to understand all the latest technology.

Right now, there is no cure for the disease but there are medications available to treat symptoms.

If you are concerned about symptoms, the Alzheimer’s Association has come up with a checklist of questions you can ask your doctor.

The organization also has developed a 10-step questionnaire on what to do when you notice a loved one having memory trouble.

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