Learn The Three Stages of Alzheimer’s

Most people think Alzheimer’s is something that starts around the age 65 and progressively becomes worse as you age. Reports and studies now reveal that the initial cellular damage in the brain begins twenty to thirty years before the first symptoms start to show. Recent advances in brain-imaging technology give us new ways to see what is going on inside your skull. A basic understanding of what these studies show will make it easier for you to realize there are certain factors you can control to help prevent such a dreaded disease as Alzheimer’s.

In stage one, even though individuals have no symptoms of Alzheimer’s, they have measurable changes that can be seen with special imaging studies of the brain. Today, changes can be detected in cerebrospinal fluid taken by a needle placed through your back into the area of fluid around the spinal cord.

Stage-one Alzheimer’s disease occurs before any noticeable symptoms such as memory loss or reasoning is evident to the individual or anyone else. During this time period, damage is happening but the healthier sections of the brain are able to compensate for the ongoing injury happening in other areas.

Stage two is the period between the time you begin having symptoms until the time you become dependent on someone else in carrying on your daily routines. Stage two is the transitional stage between the initial symptoms and the loss of independence. The problems that cause Alzheimer’s have continued to build up in the brain for twenty or more years.

In stage two the symptoms have developed, and now, the person or someone else can recognize what is happening. The beta-amyloid plaque has built up enough in a particular portion of the brain to impair the normal function of that area. With Alzheimer’s, that usually means memory, and the part of the brain usually affected the hippocampus. Many times, stage two becomes evident when everyone realizes the car keys have to be taken.

Stage three is called dementia due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Stage three is when there are noticeable memory problems, or thinking and reasoning affects their behavior to the point of having to depend on someone else to help in everyday matters. The word dementia simply means that the brain has declined enough to cause a severe weakening in one’s mental abilities to the point that they become dependent on someone else to help in every day routines. Not only is memory impaired, but also the process is affecting other parts of the brain that results with a decline in their ability to reason and make judgment calls.

The scary numbers are: Once the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is made, forty percent of their remaining life will be spent in a nursing home setting. Two-thirds of those who die of dementia do so in nursing homes.

Don’t think of the number of your years. Think of the quality of your years from now to the end. Think of the quality of your family’s life from now to the end. There is no medication to prevent Alzheimer’s. Lifestyle changes are the only “preventive medicines” available.