August 19, 2012
Dawn Tesner, DHEd, CPhT
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurologic disease of the brain leading to the irreversible loss of neurons and the loss of intellectual abilities, including memory and reasoning, which become severe enough to forgetting social or occupational functioning. Alzheimer’s disease is also known as simply Alzheimer’s, and also Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type (SDAT). I chose my paper on Alzheimer’s because I have known someone very important to me who suffered from such a terrible disease. She was my great aunt but more of like a grandmother to me because she was around more than my actual grandmother. When I was growing up I didn’t understand the seriousness of Alzheimer’s disease. I actually thought it was humorous when my aunt wouldn’t remember where she put her glasses, or started to put the milk in the cabinet instead of the fridge. She started getting drastically worse to the point where she sometimes would not even remember some family members and then I started to get worried it wasn’t humorous to me any longer. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The word dementia comes from the Latin word de meaning “apart” and mens from the genitive mentis meaning “mind”. Dementia is the progressive deterioration in cognitive function – the ability to process thought (intelligence). (Nordqvist, 2009) Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease meaning the disease gets worse as it progresses. Alzheimer’s sometimes occurs from something as simple as a stroke and that is what ended up happening to my aunt. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be tricky to diagnose because each patient has unique signs and symptoms. A handful of the signs and symptoms presented in Alzheimer’s disease also exist in other conditions and diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is classified into several stages. The 7 – stage framework is very common when classifying Alzheimer’s diseases. The seven stages of diagnostic framework are: Stage 1. No impairment which means that memory and cognitive abilities seem to be normal and there is no sign of memory or cognitive problems. Stage 2. Minimal impairment (Very Mild Cognitive Decline) defined as the earlier signs of Alzheimer’s. Friends and family do not notice any memory lapses; they find it normal that their loved ones are forgetting familiar words or names, and things such as where they left a familiar object like a TV remote. Stage 3. Early Confusional (Mild Cognitive Decline) Duration – 2 to 7 years this is where the patient has slight difficulties which have some impact on certain everyday functions. In many cases the patient will try to conceal problems. These problems deal with word recall, organization, planning, problem reading a passage, the ability to learn new things may be affected, and depression becomes apparent in this stage to family members and friends. Stage 4. Moderate Cognitive Decline. (Mild or Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease). Duration – about 2 years this stage is when the common tasks such as driving, cooking, shopping, and reading become more difficult. In this stage the patients deny there is a problem and become very defensive. Stage 5. Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline (Moderate or Mid-stage Alzheimer’s Disease). Duration- about 18 months. In this stage the patients start not remembering details about personal history, such as names, where they went to school, telephone numbers, and personal addresses. They become confused about where they are or where things are and what day or month it is. They start needing help picking out clothes for the seasons or occasions. They still remember their names and names of spouse and children. Stage 6. Severe Cognitive Decline (Moderately Severe Mid-stage Alzheimer’s Disease). Duration – about 2 ½ years. The memory continues to deteriorate. There is a considerable change in personality. This is where...