Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that is typified by progressive weakening of cognitive skills, affecting all aspects of day to day activities. A person suffering from Alzheimer's is likely to undergo severe behavioral changes.
Emil Kraepelin was the first person to identify the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Alois Alzheimer, who was a German psychiatrist, studied typical neuropathology for the first time in the year 1906.
The distinct and the most striking symptom of Alzheimer's disease is amnesia. In the early stages, a victim of Alzheimer's is quite often found to be in a confused state, and facing problems with short-term memory. There are usually problems with paying attention and in terms of spatial orientation.
The personality of the person affected usually undergoes a massive change coupled with frequent mood swings and the language of the patient may be affected. However, it should be noted that Alzheimer's disease does not affect everyone in the same way,and this can make the disease quite difficult to diagnose.
In the early stages of the illness, patients tend to lose energy and their alertness of mind decreases but this change is hardly noticeable. Also, there is loss of memory and the person may become moody. Overall, the affected person becomes slow in responding to everyday stimuli. Eventually, due to the significant memory loss the patient tries to shields himself or herself from anything that they find unfamiliar, as a result the person can become highly confused and get lost easily and frequently.
In the next stage, the victim of Alzheimer's starts seeking assistance to carry out those tasks that require heavy lifting. Their speech starts getting affected and quite frequently they stop abruptly after saying half a sentence. Depression, irritation and restlessness are some of the common traits during this stage of illness.
Slowly, the individual becomes disabled. They may remember past incidents but can't recall the very recent ones. In the advanced stage it becomes difficult for the patient to distinguish between day and night or even recognize the faces of very near and dear ones.
In the last stage of the disease, patients merely exist. They experience total loss of memory and they are unable to eat properly and cannot control themselves to any great extent. Constant care is needed for a patient at this stage. The individual also becomes prone to other diseases such as pneumonia, infections, etc. Ultimately they become confined to bed and this fatal stage leads to death.
Alzheimer's disease is not curable but there are treatments available that can slow its progress and there is promising research that may lead to a cure.