stages of alzheimers

The Stages of Alzheimer’s

The stages of Alzheimer’s have been divided into three stages and into 7 stages.

Most commonly, Alzheimer’s is divided into three stages: early, moderate and end. Which is useful because it’s quite straightforward. And, it tells you everything you need to know.

However, for people who want a more granular understanding of the disease, The Reisberg system, breaks the progression down into seven stages. This system was developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University.[1]

Reisberg’s seven stages of Alzheimer’s

Many healthcare professionals around America are said to use this system as is the Alzheimer’s Association.

As one of the most insidious diseases suffered by people over 45, Alzheimer’s has no cure (yet), and has been known to cause death. This is why Reisberg’s seven stages are so important. The more granular our understanding of this disease, the closer we come to finding a cure.

The seven stages are:

Stage one: no impairment

As the name of the stage says, there’s no visible symptoms at this stage. No memory loss or physical impairment are in evidence.

Stage two: very mild decline

This is when memory loss starts to occur. However, it’s not quite cause for panic as this sort of memory loss is also natural for older people. If a memory test were taken at this stage, 8 out of 10 sufferers would pass, and those who didn’t would probably not be suspected of having dementia.

Stage three: mild decline

At this stage sufferers will start to have difficulty planning, organizing, remembering names of acquaintances and finding the right words during a conversation.

It’s at this stage that a memory and cognitive test would start to imply the potential of Alzheimer’s.

Stage four: moderate decline

This is the stage where it becomes obvious Alzheimer’s is the cause for memory loss. By this stage, people have trouble with simple math, forget what they ate for breakfast, and may even forget details about their life.

Stage five: moderately severe decline

At this stage, people need help managing because they experience confusion, have trouble dressing appropriately and can forget the simplest details about themselves.

At this stage, people still have some level of functionality—for example they can still go to the toilet and shower on their own. And they will know their family and close friends.

Stage 6: severe decline

If a person is suffering stage 6 they will need constant supervision. And professional care.

Some of the symptoms of stage 6 include:

  • loss of bladder control
  • confusion about surroundings
  • potential behaviour problems
  • unable to remember details of life
  • can’t recognize faces

Stage 7: very severe decline

Sadly, Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease. People in the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease are close to death. They lose the ability to communicate and respond to what’s going on around them, they can still utter phrases but don’t understand what’s going on.

Some people lose the ability to swallow in the final stages of Alzheimer’s as well as require constant supervision and care.

 

[1] http://www.alzheimers.net/stages-of-alzheimers-disease/

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Communicating with Alzheimers Sufferer

Communicating With Someone Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

We all know that the Alzheimer’s disease affects people mentally. It basically impacts the person’s ability to recall past events and can dramatically alter that individual’s capacity for communication.

This is why having conversations with people who have Alzheimer’s needs proper attention. After all, their cognitive skills are not the same as the normal ones – and the communication needs patience, understanding and good listening skills.

Here are some tips to keep conversations with a cognitively-impaired loved one positive at all times:

Face Them Off – A friendly eye contact goes a long way when having dialogue with a person suffering from the Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Using their name during conversation is another great way to get their attention.

Diminish Distractions – Any background noise such as the TV, radio or even a fan can distract people suffering from Alzheimer’s. That is why you should always be patient when having a conversation and ideally, find a quiet place where the two of you can converse in peace.

Talk One-on-One – A common rule when conversing with people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia is to minimize the number of people involved in the discussion. The more people there are, the more complicated the situation gets – which is why you should keep talks with a person who has Alzheimer’s one-on-one if and whenever possible.

Keep It Simple – According to many experts, comments and conversations with people suffering from the Alzheimer’s should always be kept short and simple. If you are conversing to the point, you will make it easier for the person to understand and reply to your talk. Also, referring to nouns by their actual name (ex.saying ‘dog’ instead of ‘it’) can help them understand the situation and minimize the open-ended questions.

Always Avoid Conflict – Arguing with a person who has Alzheimer’s will only make it hard for them and more agitated for you. That is why you should always avoid inflammatory comments such as ‘I just told you that’ or ‘You are wrong’.

Be Patient And Enter Their World – Last but not least, you should know that patience goes a long way when communicating with people struggling with Alzheimer’s. You should basically enter their world and live in their reality.

In the end, no matter what stage of Alzheimer’s your loved one is in, you should always follow these rules and establish a positive, human connection that is vital to their well being.

Can Social Media Help Alzheimer’s?

Social media means many things to many people. Racking up a ton of friends on Facebook isn’t going to help a person suffering from Alzheimer’s. But then, racking up huge number of friends on Facebook isn’t really going to help anyone, unless they like the numbers for their ego.

Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease, and research is going on daily into preventing, slowing down and curing it. While the research continues searching for a definitive treatment, there are some measures for slowing the process a little.

One writer put it like this:

“Could you imagine if a weekly Skype call with your grandparents could prolong their memory for six months, or a year, or ten years? What if exchanging five-second snapchats with your best friend every day were proven to decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer’s by 5%?”

What is Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that starts slowly and worsens progressively over time. As yet, there is no cure and the exact cause has not yet been uncovered. Many theories abound as to what might cause it, but at the writing of this, they are working theories only, with nothing definitive. Everything from gum disease, to old age and to not actively using your brain as you age.

Alzheimer myths, and the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett

For a while it was believed those who were creative, intelligent, and who were constantly using their brains would not get Alzheimer’s: or at least their chances would be minimal. This has proven to be a myth. Staying physically and mentally active can help to slow the effects of Alzheimer’s but it can neither stop it nor prevent it.

An example of this would be the British novelist Sir Terry Pratchett. Pratchett was knighted by the queen for his services to literature—he spent the better part of forty years writing some of the most entertaining, witty satirical fantasy novels you will ever read.

He was diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy or PCA (Benson’s syndrome), an atypical form of Alzheimer’s in 2007. Here was one the greatest modern writers of fantasy and even he, with all his brilliance and intelligence ad wit, died 8 years after he was diagnosed. In that time, he managed to write 9 best sellers, and write 3 documentaries. He called his disease the embuggerance: refusing to let the stigma of Alzheimer’s claim him.

You see, Pratchett knew his diagnosis was a death sentence: his diagnosis meant that his chances of reaching 70 were slim to none. So, instead of succumbing to defeat, Pratchett wrote about Alzheimer’s and went on British TV to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s. And he wasn’t just trying to find a cure, although he did want future generations to have that option.

He campaigned for more social awareness—for people to take better care of Alzheimer’s sufferers and to understand what it was to suddenly lose your hold, to go from being intelligent and articulate and watch it slowly

slip through your fingers. And for Pratchett he knew it was happening, he lived it fully cognizant of what was happening.

Sir Terry Pratchett wrote constantly and when the embuggerance took away his ability to write, he had a computer program installed to dictate what he said. Because that’s what posterior cortical atrophy does, it slowly disrupts complex visual procession (you know you’re holding a fork, but you’re not sure what it is or what you’re doing with it). He stayed active right up until he couldn’t. Which may sound silly, but the point is he stayed active and possibly gave himself a few more years. They may not have been particularly fun years for him, but he gave his family—and his loyal readers—more years of his shining self. Not to mention the attention he brought to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Pratchett leveraged his celebrity status to get in front of many people as possible and let the world know. He stayed active right up to the end, and showed Alzheimer’s sufferers and their carers that there is plenty of life after diagnosis. But it is up to both the person who suffers from Alzheimer’s and those around them to help them stay active both physically and mentally.

That’s the point of mentioning Sir Terry Pratchett. His collection of non-fiction “A Slip of the Keyboard” contains most of his writings on the subject of Alzheimer’s and is definitely worth reading if you would like to know more information on the subject.

There is one thing about Alzheimer’s that researchers can agree on

One thing everyone does agree on (at the writing of this book) is this: Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. However, the greatest risk factor of getting Alzheimer’s is increasing age. Which is based on the fact that most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 or older. Although, there are around 200,000 people in the U.S. alone who have what is known as early onset Alzheimer’s.

Life expectancy for someone with Alzheimer’s depends on two factors: their age, and when they are diagnosed. Typically, a person with Alzheimer’s—once symptoms are apparent to others—has an average life expectancy of eight years.

Treatments for Alzheimer’s

While there is no cure, yet, there are treatments currently available which can temporarily slow the worsening of memory loss symptoms as well as improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

Around the world, researchers and doctors are working on the problem trying to find a cure to this horrible disease, delay its onset and prevent it from developing.

[1] https://isys6621.com/2013/11/20/can-social-media-cure-alzheimers/

Seven Life Lessons To Ponder!

Seven Life Lessons To Ponder!

This is a guest post written by: Tom Mobley (http://mobleyhr.com/)

Having in all likelihood lived half of my life I am finding myself at a very interesting place. I am now in year 6 of dealing with my mothers Alzheimer journey. During that time I have had a kid graduate high school, soon to graduate college and then get married. Another child is set to graduate high school. And our third child is now a teenager. I lost a job after 10+ years with the same company not once but twice. However now find myself happier than ever in my work. As a child I was raised by a single parent who never married. Recently I discovered that the person whom I thought was my father, is not really my father. And in the last week an older brother who was put up for adoption 4 years before I was born has discovered me.

Honestly at times I want a do-over, but life doesn’t work that way, we can only “do-forward”. To say that I have been reflecting a lot lately is an understatement. With that in mind, here are seven things for us to consider.

1. We all make mistakes and they will follow us. Some times what starts off as some thing small ends up being huge over time.

2. Things may not always be what they appear.

3. No good deed goes unpunished.

4. There will always be reactions to your actions.

5. Some may not understand what you did, others will disagree with it and some will celebrate your struggles.

6. You rarely will go wrong with truth and transparency.

7. Seeking guidance through prayers and/or meditation is always a good idea, but we need to rely on this from the start and not toward the end. We might not have as many problems if we did.

Happy pondering!

what is alzheimers

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

The origins of Alzheimer’s disease, and what you need to be aware of.

Alzheimer’s disease is named after dr. Alois Alzheimer who first named it in 1906. The story goes that Dr. Alois Alzheimer “noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).[1]

Dr. Alzheimer’s discovery of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary are still considered main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Since Dr. Alzheimer’s time, another discovery about brain tissue was discovered: Alzheimer’s disease also causes a loss of connection between nerve cells. These nerve cells are what transmit messages between different parts of the brain as well as from the brain to muscles and organs in your body.

3 important things you need to know about Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. One of the many horrible things about this disease is the symptoms develop gradually, almost imperceptibly, until the disease becomes so severe that suffers struggle to do regular, everyday tasks.

Despite the medical community knowing about this disease for more than 100 years, there are many myths around the disease and those who suffer from it. Three things you should know about Alzheimer’s disease:

1.       It’s not a normal sign of aging

The idea that Alzheimer’s is part of growing old exists because the average age of people diagnosed is 65. However, in America alone, roughly 200,000 under 65s have what’s known as younger-onset—or early-onset—Alzheimer’s disease.

This is just one reason why you should never dismiss the idea that Alzheimer’s is a disease only older people get. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s is important to help manage the disease, because early detection and management go a long way to sufferers living longer.

2.       Alzheimer’s worsens over time

A progressive disease, Alzheimer’s worsens over the years. At first, memory loss is mind—it’s that fuzzy brain feeling where you know you know something but can’t for the life of you remember what it is.

Then it gets worse. Much worse. Memory isn’t the only thing to go. The ability to hold a conversation or be cognizant of your environment also starts to go.

To put it into perspective, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in America.

3.       No cure. But symptoms can be treated

As yet, there are no treatments to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. What we have at the moment are treatments to manage symptoms and make life easier for sufferers and their caregivers. Worldwide, scientists and doctors are attempting to find a cure, but until then the best that can be done is to manage this horrifying disease.

Help is available

Alzheimer’s sufferers are not alone. Alzheimer’s Association is a great place to find information, support and local resources. Visit Alzheimer’s navigator today

[1] https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

combating Alzheimers with video games

How Videos Games are Helping to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Research is emerging which hypothesizes video games may help seniors retain cognitive function

Alzheimer’s is a horribly debilitating disease with no known cure. However, scientists are working on a video game would could delay the symptoms of, or prevent, Alzheimer’s.

Research data shown at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in the middle of 2016 suggested a certain type of video game could decrease the risk of dementia symptoms by half.

The role video games could play in fighting Alzheimer’s disease

A quick disclaimer: playing Call of Duty or Halo is not likely to help decrease the symptoms of dementia—these games are good for those trigger-happy gamers who like mindless violence as a way to switch off and ignore the world for a while.

The type of video game being discussed here is called speed-of-processing task: a cognitive training program that 2,800 people took as part of a study. The average age of the participants was 74, and the scientists tracked them for 10 years. The ten-year study’s objective was to hopefully find out how the cognitive training could impact the functioning of older healthy patients.

Discovering a video game that could prevent the development of Alzheimer’s

The ten-year study had four groups, one was a control group that did nothing. Another group played the speed-of-processing task and the final two groups took a memory or reasoning class.

A paper from the test was published in 2014 showed cognitive training could help with certain tasks like driving or balancing a checkbook.

In July of 2016, findings showed that of the group who played the game 10-14 hours of the game over ten years were 48% less likely to have developed Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia; this was compared those who didn’t have any brain training.

The harsh reality of Alzheimer’s research

The results sound promising. 48% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s from playing a video game for 14 hours over ten years! What’s not to get excited about? Well, the nature of Alzheimer’s is that no one wants to get their hopes up—especially the people responsible for treating and hopefully one day curing it.

At the moment, the news that computerized training could one day have significant preventive effects on Alzheimer’s is exciting enough. It’s given scientists a launching pad for further research and study.

Even researchers who were closely involved in the ten-year study have said, yes, these findings are good because we now know training and exercising cognitive function can mitigate the possibility of Alzheimer’s.

What researchers also know is they are a long way off from claiming they have found a cure to one of the most devastating, destructive diseases known to man.

Video games and the future of Alzheimer’s treatment

The possibility of apps and online games to improve cognitive ability and so lessen the chances of Alzheimer’s is now very real, and could soon—hopefully—be an answer to a devastating problem.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/27/could-this-computer-game-delay-alzheimers-symptoms-new-study-suggests-it-could/?utm_term=.c4a9a86c939f