The four stages of Alzheimer's diseaseIn most Alzheimer's patients, the condition deteriorates steadily. However, the condition may appear to start acutely or take an alternating course with worsening and improvement. Learn more about the four stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Mild cognitive impairment
In this phase of the disease, there are only slight memory changes, which are only partially noticeable to patients or relatives, but can be detected in memory tests. Cognitive function is still well preserved, so that everyday life can be managed without assistance. Young" patients (under 65 years of age) may still be able to work. However, mild limitations may already occur, but these are compensated for by increased exertion or concentration. Patients with mild cognitive impairment have a higher risk of later developing Alzheimer's disease.
In this early phase first disturbances in the short-term memory appear. Patients can no longer remember information so well, have difficulty following conversations or misplace objects. They may not find the right words and "lose the thread" in the middle of a sentence. First difficulties with the spatial. Temporal orientation on. Patients can still manage simple everyday tasks such as shopping, hanging out the laundry or cooking meals on their own, but when it comes to more complicated requirements, such as making a bank transfer, they increasingly need support. Many patients notice that something is wrong with them. But they don't want to show their face and therefore try to cover up their limitations. They withdraw more and more and avoid new and unfamiliar situations. Are increasingly staying at home because they feel safest there. Mood swings, depression and irritability may occur.
In this stage the disease becomes obvious. In addition to the short-term memory, the long-term memory is also affected. Patients are less and less able to remember important events in their lives, for example whether they were married, have children or what their profession was. Only early memories of childhood and adolescence sometimes appear in flashes and are then often felt as if they had just been experienced. They find it increasingly difficult to orient themselves in terms of time and space. Even within their own four walls they can no longer find their way around. Due to the loss of spatial vision, patients no longer recognize familiar faces. They need increased care and support in coping with everyday life, independent living is no longer possible. There are profound changes in behavior. In the patient's personality. These are a great burden for the patient himself, but also for relatives and friends. Many patients feel a great restlessness and nervousness and run restlessly around the apartment or try to run away. The disturbed sense of time often disrupts the sleep-wake rhythm. Patients turn night into day. Are tired during the day. The disorientation and helplessness of those affected often turns into mistrust, irritability, nervousness and aggressive outbursts.
In the last stage of the disease, the patients also physically deteriorate more and more. They can hardly speak and chewing, swallowing and breathing become more and more laborious. Bladder and bowels can no longer be controlled. Mobility decreases, stiffening of limbs and seizures may occur. The patient is in need of care around the clock. Because the immune system is weakened, susceptibility to infectious diseases increases. Many Alzheimer's patients die from respiratory infections.