What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
The most common cause of dementia in the UK today is Alzheimer’s Disease, effecting an estimated 850,000 people. Most people who develop Alzheimer’s do so after he age of 65, but younger people can also get it.
There are some common symptoms of Alzheimer’s which are mentioned below. However, it is important to remember that these will manifest differently in different people. Everyone is unique. Therefore, it is unlikely for two people with the same form of dementia to experience the disorder in exactly the same way.
Early Stages of Alzheimer’s
Early signs of Alzheimer’s are usually associated with memory lapses. Symptoms are generally mild to start with, but gradually get worse. As the disorder progresses, symptoms will start to interfere with day-to-day life. Some of these include:
- Memory Loss that effects orientation and interferes more and more with daily life
- Difficulties with Thinking, reasoning and concentrating and planning
- Difficulties with Problem Solving, or carrying out a sequence of tasks
- Communication Problems where a person will repeat themselves and/or struggle to follow a conversation
- Visuospatial Problems that cause someone to misjudge distance or see objects in three dimensions
In the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s, a person will experience changes in their mood. They may develop anxiety and become depressed, withdrawn or irritable. Many affected people lose interest in hobbies and activities that once stimulated them.
Late Stages of Alzheimer’s
As the disease progresses, memory loss will grow more severe and so will problems with communication, orientation and reasoning. The person will become more dependant on others. They may become increasingly frail, and face difficulty while eating and walking. Eventually they will require support with activities on a daily basis.
Many people with Alzheimer’s develop behaviour that can seem unusual or out of character. This may include restlessness, anxiety and agitation, which causes the person to call out, repeat questions and grow aggressive. Some will see things that aren’t there or believe things that aren’t true. This kind of behaviour can be very distressing for the person effected and their carers. It may require specialist care and management, separate to the memory problems.
People with Alzheimer’s can live for 8-10 years on average. However, life expectancy and how quickly the disease progresses can vary greatly from one person to another.
Caring for a person with developing dementia or Alzheimer’s requires specialist understanding. Particularly since the disorder manifests differently in each individual, and symptoms change over time. Our professionally trained staff offer residents and their families one-to-one support on what can often be a difficult journey. Find Out More
Some of the information in this section has been sourced from the Alzheimer’s Society website.