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Alzheimers Symptoms

QUESTION: What are the common Alzheimers symptoms?


The early Alzheimer’s symptoms can be mistaken for ordinary signs of aging that have been affecting the patient for approximately four years. This is when short-term memory takes place. Long-term memory is not affected, but the learning of new skills and their retention is harder than it had been before.

Language abilities become more difficult, and people find it harder to find “the right word.” Abstract thinking deteriorates as the early stages progress, and planning, mental math, and other kinds of reasoning and thinking skills become more challenging. As these early symptoms worsen, there may be a change in personality or more frequent mood swings which are caused by frustration, anger, and fear. These symptoms may increase in severity during the evenings and night, a condition known as “sundowning.” The individual realizes there is something wrong, but denies the problem. Many spouses misinterpret the mood swings and hostile behavior as signs of a relationship problem. If these subtle changes are noticed early on, treatment can slow the progression.

In the next stage, the Alzheimer’s symptoms become even more advanced. The victim can still perform tasks independently but may need assistance with more complicated activities. Speech and understanding become slower, and they often lose their train of thought in mid-sentence. They may get lost while traveling or forget to pay bills. If the patient becomes aware of the disability, depression, irritability, and restlessness may enter into the picture. Recent events may be easier to remember by the patient than events from the past. Alzheimer’s patients who have progressed to this stage have been affected so drastically that they lose their ability to comprehend where they are, the day and the time. They most definitely must be in the care of someone who will watch over them and explain to the patient clear instructions repeating them often. As the disease progresses, the victim’s mind continues to slip away and he/she may invent words and not recognize familiar faces.

In the final stages, symptoms are the loss of the ability to chew and swallow. Memory is now extremely poor, and no one is recognizable. The patient loses bowel and bladder control, and eventually needs constant care. They are now vulnerable to pneumonia, infection, and other illnesses. Respiratory problems may arise and become worse particularly when the patient is bedridden. This terminal stage eventually leads to death.

How do you treat such a disease? Prescription medications are the answer. The goal is to help control the symptoms that affect memory and thinking. With these treatment medicines, the symptoms may improve, remain unchanged, or may decline. Treatment can also help if the person is restless, depressed, wanders, or has trouble sleeping. Some medicines, vitamins, and other therapies are being studied to see if they may help people with Alzheimer's disease.

In treating and caring for your patient, don’t forget that prayer and faith have a place the process. Your loved one may not be healed from the disease, but remembering that God is faithful throughout will be comforting to everyone involved. As a part of the daily rituals of reminding the patient of names and events, you may also wish to include things that remind them of their faith. Consequently, you, too, will be reminded.

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