Alzheimer's disease is a medical condition most often associated with the aging population. This condition affects memory and cognition with the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease progressing through the three stages of the disease. The first stage usually presents with mild symptoms, the second with moderate symptoms, and the third with more severe symptoms.
During the first stage, one of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease most often reported is a loss of memory that is more drastic than associated with the normal aging process. The patient may get lost walking home from the store or fail to remember the face or name of a family member. A lack of energy and spontaneity are also associated with the milder phase of Alzheimer's disease symptoms. Other symptoms include an inability to perform normal daily functions without help, a lack of ability to handle personal finances, and a change in judgment. Stage one can last from two years to four years or more, depending on the progression of the disease.
The second stage is often the longest stage for the Alzheimer's patient and can last up to 10 years. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease presented during the first stage remain, but tend to progress to more severe levels. Instead of misplacing something in the home, the Alzheimer's patient may forget they have it in the first place. This can include pets, which can lead to malnourishment and even death. In almost a regression of sorts, the patient may lose the ability to comprehend written words, with reading and writing becoming more difficult over time. The patient will often eventually become a danger to themselves, as wandering is very common.
The final stage of Alzheimer's disease is usually the most difficult for the family of the Alzheimer's patient. The patient losing his or her cognitive hold on life often slips into a state where no one is familiar. While this is not physically painful for the patient, the family members can have difficulty accepting the loss of the loved one mentally.
Alzheimer's Disease is not usually a fatal condition, but the lack of strength and ability to care for themselves often lends to an increased number of infections and illnesses in patients. Patients will remain in the final stage of the disease until death, as there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease discussed in stages one and two remain during the final stage and can progressively worsen.
Not every patient will present with the same symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. There is also a different time line for progression from patient to patient. During the progression of the disease, there may be times when memory returns and cognition seems to be improved, but these small bits of light are most often temporary.