Living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or any form of dementia is not easy. As memory loss progresses and other cognitive function gradually declines, doing even simple daily routine tasks, like walking, bathing, eating, etc. become difficult. This often leads to other complications for the people with the disease. For example, they can experience depression, agitation, and other mental health problems, and may even develop physical problems like bedsores, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), etc.
What causes Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be due to the build up of protein in and around brain cells1, which gradually leads to decline in memory loss and cognitive functions. Studies indicate that there’s not one single cause of Alzheimer’s disease. A combination of multiple factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environment lead to Alzheimer’s disease. 1,2, Age is the most known risk of Alzheimer’s. Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of people with Alzheimer’s doubles every 5 years beyond 65 years.3
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease like memory loss are more likely to appear in late ages of life (over 65 years), but signs of the disease are visible in the early ages too. People with the Alzheimer’s disease experience symptoms in stages as follows
Early-stage Alzheimer’s (Mild)
People with the disease experience forgetfulness, such as misplacing items or difficulty remembering names. The person can live independently.
Middle-stage Alzheimer’s (Moderate)
This is the longest stage and can last for years. During this stage, symptoms of the disease are more pronounced. People can experience -
- Extreme forgetfulness like forgetting their own address
- Feeling withdrawn in mental challenging environment
- Difficulty in choosing appropriate clothing for occasions
- Tendency to wander
Late-stage Alzheimer’s (Severe)
In the stage, people with the disease experience severe symptoms. As memory and other cognitive functions worsen, people lose the ability to interact with the environment. They even lose the ability to walk, sit and swallow. They require assistance with daily activities like brushing, bathing, cleaning, etc.
The ability to communicate worsen, people with the disease, can’t express how they’re feeling or what’s making them uncomfortable. This often leads to complications and requires caregivers to be the elderly 24/7. Caregivers can prevent complications by being attentive to the patient’s needs.
Complications of Alzheimer’s disease
People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more complications, depending -
- Aspiration Pneumonia
People with Alzheimer’s are less active and often have less immunity, this makes them prone to infections. They can also forget swallowing and chewing their food. If this happens, there’s an increased risk of food ore drink to enter the respiratory organ and cause pneumonia. To avoid this risk, caregivers can ensure that older adults are eating and drinking in the upright position always. Additionally, caregivers can turn solid food into paste before feeding.
Older adults who wear dentures are prone to bacterial infection, which can lead to further health complications. So, caregivers should ensure that dentures are cleaned every night before they are worn by older adults.
People with Alzheimer’s disease spend long hours either sitting or lying on the bed, building pressure on the skin. This causes the skin to breakout, leading to bedsores. As the older adults with the disease become harder to move, they are prone to bedsores. Bedsores can be prevented by moving them every hour or two.
Some people with Alzheimer may feel depressed. It’s normal due to their decreased activity level and spending more time indoors. In such cases, it’s best to speak to psychiatrist who may prescribe antidepressant drugs.
- Malnutrition and dehydration
It's normal for people with Alzheimer’s to experience decrease in appetite. They are also less likely to communicate when they’re thirsty. However, nutrition is still important. Lack of nutrition can make them weaker. Caregivers can ensure that people with Alzheimer’s are having nutritional food by including juices and soups in the meal. Making patient’s water each hour can also ensure that they’re staying hydrated.
In the late stages, people with Alzheimer’s disease lack coordination in their movement. So, they’re prone to falling. One way to avoid falls is to support the older adults when they want to move from one place to another. Getting rid of slippery rugs and mats can also help prevent falls.
-Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
As movement becomes less and people with Alzheimer’s spend more time lying on the bed, they’re prone to wet their bed and continue lie in it. This can cause urinary tract infection (UTI), especially among people who are incontinent and continue sitting in wet condition for a long time without realizing it. Caregivers can prevent UTI by creating a toilet routine. So, people with the disease can empty themselves regularly.
Alzheimer’s disease worsens the cognitive functions of the people suffering from the disease. This can lead to several physical and mental health complications. Caregivers must take precautions to prevent them, so they can enable them to live a better life.
SenOcare offers packaged services that support people with Alzheimer’s disease and enable them to live their older years joyfully. Our service offers full-time trained nurses who take care of older adults and are with them 24/7.
Q1. What are the three major effects of Alzheimer’s disease on brain?
Major effects of Alzheimer’s disease include progressive memory loss, declining cognitive functions, and inability to reason.
Q2. What are the stages of Alzheimer’s disease?
The three stages of Alzheimer’s disease are: Mild, Moderate, and Severe. Each stage indicates the severity of declining cognitive function.
Q3. How to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
A combination of factors, including genetics, age, exercise, healthy eating, and working on mentally stimulating projects can help prevent Alzheimer’s.
Q4. What triggers Alzheimer’s?
Build up of protein in and around brain cells is known to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
The two proteins involved are: amyloid and tau. Amyloid forms plaque around brain cells and tau forms tangles within brain cells.
Q5. What is the most common complication of Alzheimer’s disease?
Bedsores, infections, pneumonia, UTI, etc. are common complications among the people with Alzheimer’s disease.