Even if you are not a health expert, there is a good chance that you are already aware of the fact that Alzheimer's Disease is a disease that involves the degradation of memory and brain function. It will become harder and harder for patients to function with this disease and they will require more and more assistance in caring out their daily activities. In this article, we will spotlight what can cause these degenerative changes and what types of symptoms you can expect as a result of this.
Early changes seen in Alzheimer's disease patients
This is what is occurring when a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease has been made. These misfolded proteins can start to accumulate as early as our twenties, and the brain is one organ where these proteins are quite likely to appear. The reason for this is due to how active our brain normally is. We need to constantly energize our brains in order to sustain the numerous processes that the brain is responsible for. As a result, the brain is constantly producing proteins for energy. Chronic conditions can cause damage to this process and as a result, plaques being to form.
The key thing to remember at this early stage, however, is that you will not have any symptoms as this damage is being done. This is why it can come quite as a surprise to some patients who are later diagnosed with Alzheimer's, because it seemingly "came out of the blue." In reality, these symptoms that appear represent years and years of oxidative stress, damage to the tissues and the accumulation of these misfolded proteins.
The first signs that will appear will be what we term in medicine as mild cognitive impairment. This is a fancy medical term that just means that the patient will have some type of inability to remember or concentration. This can be a very tricky thing to diagnose because you can be a perfectly healthy individual and still have a problem remembering something. According to numerous studies, it seems that temporal events are the first manifestations of the disease. Patients will hard time remembering dates and times. This can lead to more and more significant events like missed appointments or forgetting to pay bills before their deadline.
The hippocampus is another segment of the brain that will have early changes. This is the section of the brain responsible for forming new memories and recalling previous ones. As this portion of the brain continues to be damaged, patients are unable to make new memories and will even start to forget memories. Recent memories will be the first to be forgotten but as the disease progresses, you may even start to forget familiar faces, your address and who you are.
Late changes seen in Alzheimer's disease
Oftentimes, one of the first signals of the late-stage of this disease is incontinence. This means that you will have difficulty controlling your urination. This will be an indirect symptom due to damage of the neurons in your brain.
Another likely symptom that patients at this stage of the disease will suffer from will be problems with balance and movement. Patients with damage to their cerebellum with have difficulty standing and may even be dependent on a wheelchair in the most advanced stages of the disease.
As a consequence of this difficulty with balance, patients will also likely start to experience muscle wasting. This means that you will start to feel weaker and weaker. You will likely experience a substantial loss of weight in a relatively short period of time and will have a tendency to experience muscle cramping relatively often. You may also find it difficult to coordinate moves with your muscles to assist you in eating. Patients with late-stage AD will usually be nutrient-deficient because they would be consuming much fewer calories than what they once ate.
At the latest stage of the disease, what you can also expect is a complete loss of your independence. It will be impossible for a patient with late-stage Alzheimer's to eat, bathe or even change their clothes due to the accumulation of these defects in the brain so additional help will be necessary. You may even forget friends and family who you would see on a daily basis.
Without a doubt, the personality of the person affected by Alzheimer's disease would also be significantly altered. A patient with this disease will have a reduced level of inhibition that naturally occurs in most healthy people. This is the natural drive that stops us from doing seemingly rude or inappropriate behavior in public. This can manifest as things such as undressing in public places, swearing or becoming overly flirtatious. These patients will also have an easy time to get anger or aggressive so it can be quite shocking for friends and family to notice this quick transformation.