World Alzheimer’s Day: How Disease Evolves in Seven Stages, Says Doctor | Health


World Alzheimer’s Day: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by worsening forgetfulness, memory loss in familiar places, and difficulty multitasking and solving problems. A person may also behave differently than before, face problems with concentration, and withdraw socially.

The disease progresses over time, and in later stages a person may lose the ability to speak and walk. Although the onset of Alzheimer’s disease does not occur until around age 65, in some cases it can begin at an early age as well.

Alzheimer’s disease is noticed when a person begins to misplace things, to forget recent events, conversations and common places. Someone close to the patient may begin to notice these changes.

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Dr Rajesh Benny, consultant neurologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund explains how the disease progresses in seven stages.

“The main hallmark of AD is the impairment of recent memory. As the disease progresses, various other cognitive domains are involved. The disease progresses in seven stages, but there is an overlap between these.” says Dr. Benny.

Stages of Alzheimer’s disease explained by Dr. Benny:

Stage 1 (no clinical alteration): Like other neurodegenerative diseases, this stage can precede memory loss by several years when the affected person is clinically well without any memory abnormalities.

Stage 2 (very mild cognitive decline): This mimics the forgetfulness associated with normal aging, where an individual misplaces objects and may eventually find them after a period of searching. Most of the patient’s relatives are not even aware of this slight oversight.

Stage 3 (mild cognitive decline): Recent memory is worsening, which is now evident to loved ones. They suffer in the daily functioning like banking work, money problems etc. and can sometimes be confused. They can, however, remain independent in all of their daily activities.

Stage 4 (moderate cognitive decline): Memory deteriorates further with difficulty in performing tasks that require multitasking. They begin to stray into unfamiliar places and become socially withdrawn. Denial of their illness and the fact of gradually becoming dependent for even simple tasks of their caregiver is expected at this stage.

Stage 5 (moderately severe cognitive decline): They may even forget their current surroundings, home address, phone number, and need help with simple tasks like getting dressed. Losing your way in familiar surroundings also happens.

Stage 6 (severe cognitive decline): There is worsening of the behavior with irritability and hallucinations. They experience memory loss even for past events and begin to lose control of their bladder / bowel functions.

Stage 7 (very severe cognitive decline): During this stage, most of them now lose the ability to speak, communicate and even move or move.

Diagnosis of AD

“The diagnosis of AD is clinical and excludes other treatable entities that can cause memory abnormalities (vitamin B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, and some infections). In most patients, an MRI of the brain is done to rule out d ‘other causes of dementia (like brain strokes, etc.) and demonstrate atrophy of structures involved in memory,’ says Dr. Benny.

Although there is no treatment to reverse or stop the progression of AD, there are drugs available that can symptomatically improve cognition. Apart from medication, you should stop smoking or alcohol, solve puzzles and board games, socialize, get enough sleep, be physically active and eat a balanced diet to slow progress.

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