What are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s dementia: the different symptoms and their progression over time
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that slowly affects the brain, leading to memory loss, cognitive impairment and behavioural changes. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are very similar in most cases. However, each person and their loved ones experience the development of the disease differently and the course can vary greatly from person to person.
First symptoms in the early stages: mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
The early stage of Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by mild cognitive impairment, which is often initially dismissed as normal signs of ageing. Symptoms at this stage may include:
- Forgetfulness: difficulty remembering recently learned information or applying newly learned skills.
- Difficulty finding words: Problems recalling words or carrying on conversations.
- Orientation problems: Confusion about time and place or difficulty with spatial orientation.
- Difficulty planning and organising tasks: Problems managing everyday tasks such as cooking or managing finances.
- Mood swings: Irritability, anxiety or social withdrawal may occur at this stage.
Symptoms in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease
In the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms become much more severe and increasingly affect the daily life of the affected person. The symptoms are usually characterised by:
- Increased memory loss: Difficulty remembering important personal information such as one’s address or telephone number
- Confusion and disorientation: More frequent confusion about time and place, and difficulty recognising familiar places.
- Difficulty recognising family members and friends: Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to remember or recognise people close to them.
- Personality and behavioural changes: Growing frustration, aggression, delusions or hallucinations may occur.
- Problems with personal hygiene: Difficulty dressing, bathing or using the toilet.
Late-stage symptoms: severe Alzheimer’s disease
In the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease, the cognitive and physical abilities of the affected person are severely reduced. Symptoms at this stage may include:
- Severe memory loss: At this stage, the affected person can remember almost no details of their personal history or recent events.
- Loss of ability to communicate: People with Alzheimer’s may have great difficulty expressing themselves, understanding what is being said, or may not be able to speak at all.
- Physical impairments: Difficulties walking, sitting or swallowing may lead to mobility problems, falls and, later in life, bedriddenness.
- Incontinence: Loss of bladder and bowel control often occurs at this stage.
- Susceptibility to infections: The weakened immune system and reduced mobility can increase the risk of infections such as pneumonia.
Nowadays, with brain stimulation methods such as transcranial pulse stimulation (TPS), we have the possibility to counteract this progressive disease in all stages except the de-staging stage with the activation of the body’s own regeneration potentials. Of crucial importance here is the earliest possible diagnosis: the sooner those affected can be included in a diagnostic scheme and appropriate therapy options can be planned, the sooner it is possible to start trying to slow down the progress of the disease and thus support those affected and their families.