sunset

The Clinical Stages of Alzheimer's

Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's. It is a relentless decline. It can affect different people in different ways, some deteriorating faster than others. Health professionals divide the march of the disease into stages, these are classifications of symptoms and not precise predictions of what will happen at a certain time. The only certainty is that the stages will occur and the outcome is death, there is no means of stopping it. Giving a timescale for each stage is only a guide as the boundary between one stage and the next is not always clear-cut. The actual timeline will be continuous and often confused, and not everybody will show every symptom. People's response to dementia varies according to their emotional resilience and their physical robustness, and the progress of the disease will also depend on how much support and stimulation the person with dementia receives.

The supporting documents for this section can be found as follows:-

a) Click HERE for Clinical Stages of Alzheimer's

b) Click HERE for a summary of Dementia types

c) Click HERE for Documented Cases

Diagnosing Dementia

The major problem with Alzheimer's disease is its diagnosis. Even though magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, single positron emission computerized tomography, spinal fluid biochemistry and other laboratory tests are helpful to identify and study disease progression, a simple and effective diagnostic test is required to identify the disease at an early stage of disease progression. Lack of awareness results in low rates of recognition of disease by family members and physicians. Reportedly, the rates of such failure to recognize cases can be up to 97% for mild Alzheimer's disease and 50% for moderate Alzheimer's disease. Although not a test for dementia as such, the MMSE is useful for assessing the level of mental impairment that a person with dementia may have. Questionnaires are often used to help test the mental abilities of the person with symptoms of dementia, and how severe they are. One widely used test is the mini mental state examination (MMSE). This assesses a number of different mental abilities, including short and long-term memory, attention span, concentration, language and communication skills, ability to plan and ability to understand instructions. The MMSE is a series of exercises, each carrying a score with a maximum of 30 points. Example exercises include memorising a short list of objects and then repeating the list, writing a short sentence that is grammatically correct, such as "the cat sat on the mat" and correctly answering time-orientation questions, such as identifying the day of the week, the date or the year.

Documented Cases

A number of reports of loved ones being affected by Alzheimer's have been published in the media over the years and 2 of these can be found on the link above. These are of a more general nature detailing the progress of the illness. A number of personal stories can be found HERE. In addition a number of books have been written from the experiences of carers and loved ones and some of these are listed below. There are a number of other books available.
Book Title Author and Publication Date Comment
Keeper Andrea Gillies; 2009 This book give a typical account of caring for a dementia sufferer up to the end of Stage 6. However, the text is interspersed with some tedious aspects of brain function and historical literature.
Dementia Essentials Jan Hall; 2013 This is a well written and well researched book. Written by real carers facing the challenges of dementia. An absolute MUST READ.
Contented Dementia Oliver James; 2008 Must be a read for carers looking after a friend/relative. It reveals a new way of dealing with dementia, brings substantial benefits to patients and carers alike
My Wife has Alzheimer's J.Wesley Sullivan; 1995 An American Story. Well written, deals with all stages of Alzheimer's. Very fortunate to have amazing support from carers.
My Bonnie John Suchet; 2011 Heavy going, quite boring. John Suchet and his wife had a privileged lifestyle.....he seems quite annoyed that she put paid to that by getting Alzheimer's.
Keeping Mum Marianne talbot; 2011 A witty and entertaining book on a difficult subject. Advice on coping as a carer. Most of book is a collection of the author's SAGA blogs.
The Little Girl in the Radiator Martin Slevin; 2012 An entertaining story. A mother with mild Alzheimer's, from diagnosis to the end of life. Well worth reading. Excellent.
Still Alice Lisa Genova; 2009 This is a novel about a 50 year old woman with early onset dementia.
memory and the brain brain changes in time alzheimer's desease areas alzheimer's progression alzheimer's progress amyloid functional brain zones stage specific drugs memory changes types of cognitive impairment dementia occurence by type dementia mechanisms reduction of MMSE scores progression of symptoms general decay normal aging to dementia decline of MMSE score types of tests for detecting alzheimers