The progression of Alzheimer’s Dementia

Alzheimer’s Dementia has always been one of my favourite topics to write about. I wrote about Alzheimer’s Dementia twice while studying Psychopathology in 2012 and for Neuropsychology in 2013. Tomorrow, I have the privilege of speaking about the progression of Alzheimer’s Dementia and while doing research this weekend I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and write my 1st blog post. I hope this post helps you understand Dementia of Alzheimer’s type, for your convenience I have tried to make this post as short as possible.

This post can be useful to caregivers, students, graduates, researchers and anyone with an interest in Dementia.

The progression of Alzheimer’s Dementia

  • What is Alzheimer’s disease
  • Global occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Purpose of this discussion: The progression of Alzheimer’s Dementia
  • Tips for Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Dementia

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

The following video explains Alzheimer’s Dementia, how it is caused and the progression of symptoms with the visual image of the brain.

Global occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease

  • There are currently 36 million people worldwide that have Alzheimer’s Dementia
  • There are 7 million new cases of dementia each year implying that a new case of dementia occurs every 4 seconds around the world
  • Approximately 750 000 people in South Africa have Alzheimer’s Dementia threatening families, finances and full time support

The progression of Alzheimer’s Dementia

  • Please remember each person experiences Alzheimer’s Dementia in their own way and may not follow these exact steps or stages however it is beneficial to be aware of these stages to understand the progression of this disease
  • Some authors suggest there are 7 or 5 steps to Dementia however 3 stages are the most common categorizing dementia into mild, moderate and severe stages

Mild Stage

  • Very mild changes in abilities or behaviour
  • Loss of memory for recent events
  • Changes in personality-subdued or withdrawn, anxious or agitated
  • Difficulty with problem solving, complex tasks and sound judgements
  • May experience distress over these failed tasks
  • Difficulty organising or expressing thoughts (finding the correct words to describe objects etc.)
  • Getting lost and misplacing belongings
  • Lose interest in people and activities

Moderate Stage

  • Changes become more marked
  • Person needs more support to help manage daily tasks
  • Need frequent reminders to help eat, wash, dress and use the toilet
  • Loss of memory increases whereby the person forgets names, repeats questions or phrases, fails to recognise people and confuses them with others
  • Some become easily upset, angry and, aggressive because of their frustration
  • They may also become clingy or lose confidence
  • More judgement and deepened confusion occurs whereby the person in unaware of where they are, they walk off and get lost
  • Put others at risk due to forgetfulness for example, not remembering to switch off appliances, blow off candles
  • Undergo changes in personality and behaviour-grow more agitated and have anger outbursts

Severe Stage

  • Completely dependent on the caregiver
  • Loss of memory is very pronounced
  • Unable to recognise objects, surrounding and even the people closest to them, may have sudden flashes of recognition
  • Become increasingly frail
  • Difficulty with movement and balance, may become confined to a wheelchair or bed
  • May have difficulty eating/swallowing
  • Weight loss/may eat too much and gain weight
  • Inconsistency-losing control of bladder and bowels
  • Gradual loss of speech-repeat few words or cry due to inability to communicate
  • Restless-sometimes seeming to be searching for someone or something
  • Distressed/aggressive-if the person feels they are being threatened
  • Anger outbursts may occur during close personal care
  • May still respond to affection, calm soothing voice, may enjoy scents, music or stroking a pet

On average, a person with Alzheimer’s disease lives for 8-10 years however some live for 25 years after their symptoms begin.

Tips for Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Dementia

As a caregiver, it can be frustrating looking after someone who has Dementia but a major tip would be to respect and try to understand someone with Dementia using the following guidelines:

  • Help the person feel valued (try to be tolerant and flexible, have regular chats, listen, show affection, find things to do together)
  • Address them by a name they recognise and prefer
  • Respect their cultural values
  • Act with courtesy (be kind, try not to talk down to the person, include the person with dementia in you conversation with others, look for meaning behind their words)
  • Respect their privacy (knock on their door, if helping to bath the person make sure the door is closed if people are around)
  • Help the person feel good about themselves (take account of their abilities, interests, preferences, respond sensitively)
  • Support the person to express their feelings (empathize, offer support)
  • Offer simple choices ( use close ended questions to ensure they make their own choices)
  • Maintain respect (look for tasks they can manage, encourage, break activities down to small steps so they feel a sense of achievement)
  • Give encouragement to other family members to help understand dementia and to offer support
  • Cling to hope as a caregiver

Also please feel free to post your comments below, perhaps even create a discussion if you know or knew of someone with Alzheimer’s Dementia, how did you cope? did they go through a similar progression of symptoms or was your experience different?

I would love to know.

Also if you have any other information on Alzheimer’s Dementia post a comment as this a learning experience for all of us.

Please note: All the links for this research are provided below for further information, please understand that I do not claim to know everything, this current research is subject to change and can only be used for a certain time period therefore it is essential to do further reading on this topic




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