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Alzheimer's Disease: How the Disease Progresses, Part I

- Friday, January 11, 2019

Alzheimer's stages—common behaviors as the disease progresses.

Spring Arbor, NC, VAAlzheimer's disease tends to develops slowly and gradually worsens over several years. Eventually, Alzheimer's disease affects most areas of your brain. Memory, thinking, judgment, language, problem-solving, personality, and movement can all be affected by the disease.

There are five stages associated with Alzheimer's disease: preclinical Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, mild dementia due to Alzheimer's, moderate dementia due to Alzheimer's, and severe dementia due to Alzheimer's. Dementia is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect intellectual and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily function.

The five Alzheimer's stages can help you understand what might happen, but it's important to know that these stages are only rough generalizations. The disease is a continuous process. Your experience with Alzheimer's, its symptoms, and when they appear may vary.

Stage 1: Preclinical Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease begins long before any symptoms become apparent. This stage is called preclinical Alzheimer's disease. You won't notice symptoms during this stage, nor will those around you.

This stage of Alzheimer's can last for years, possibly even decades. Although you won't notice any changes, new imaging technologies can now identify deposits of a protein called amyloid beta that is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The ability to identify these early deposits may be especially important in the future as new treatments are developed for Alzheimer's disease.

Additional biomarkers—measures that can indicate an increased risk of disease—have been identified for Alzheimer's disease. These biomarkers can be used to support the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, typically, after symptoms are evident.

There are also genetic tests that can tell you if you have a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease, particularly early-onset Alzheimer's disease. As with newer imaging techniques, biomarkers and genetic tests will become more important as new treatments for Alzheimer's disease are developed.

Our next blog will be on Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's disease.

For more information on Alzheimer's care, contact Spring Arbor.

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