Alzheimer’s disease is a condition which progresses slowly over the years and, as a result, the symptoms are often confused with other conditions such as old age.
It is not possible to predict the rate at which symptoms will progress as it is different for each individual person but if the symptoms are observed to be worsening quickly, it is essential that the patient is taken to see a medical practitioner so that the situation can be assessed and the symptoms managed.
Symptoms can be affected by a number of things such as medications, infections, delirium, or strokes but, generally, they are divided into three main stages.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
In the early stages, the most common symptom is memory lapses. Someone with early Alzheimer’s disease may be very forgetful. They may forget about recent conversations, events, the names of places and objects. They may misplace objects or struggle to think of the right word during a conversation. They may ask the same question several times and repeat themselves. They may show a lack of good judgement and find it hard to make decisions. In addition, they may exhibit signs of agitation, anxiety, or moments of confusion.
Middle-stage symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
As Alzheimer’s develops, the memory begins to get worse and the patient may struggle to recognise family and friends or remember their names. In addition, the patient becomes more confused and disoriented, obsessive, delusional, paranoid, and suspicious. At this stage the patient will usually need help with everyday living and tasks such as eating, getting dressed, washing, bathing, and using the toilet. Their speech may be slurred and they may experience frequent mood swings and bouts of depression, anxiety, and frustration. Their sleep may be disturbed and they may have hallucinations and lose their spacial awareness.
Later-stage symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
During the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms are much harder to handle. The patient and their carers become more distressed with symptoms such as hallucination, violence, and increasing demands and suspicion.
Patients in the later stages will also experience symptoms such as difficulty in eating and swallowing which may result in significant weight fluctuations, gradual loss of speech, and significant short and long-term memory loss.