Texas Association of Psychological Associates
Representing All Masters-Degreed Psychology Professionals in Texas

Alzheimer's Disease
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Alzheimer's Association
Provides many resources including a 24-hour Helpline

Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation
Provides a free newsletter and resources for those caring for people with Alzheimer's

-from the Alzheimer's Association and Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation:    

Top 10 Alzheimer's Symptoms

Some change in memory is normal as we grow older, but the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are more than simple lapses in memory.

People with Alzheimer's experience difficulties communicating, learning, thinking and reasoning — problems severe enough to have an impact on an individual's work, social activities and family life.

The Alzheimer's Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms to help you recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and possible warning signs of Alzheimer's disease.

There's no clear-cut line between normal changes and warning signs. It's always a good idea to check with a doctor if a person's level of function seems to be changing. The Alzheimer's Association believes that it is critical for people diagnosed with dementia and their families to receive information, care and support as early as possible.

1. Memory loss.
Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.
What's normal? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.

2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks.
People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game.
What's normal? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.

3. Problems with language.
People with Alzheimer's disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for "that thing for my mouth."
What's normal? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.

4. Disorientation to time and place.
People with Alzheimer's disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
What's normal? Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.

5. Poor or decreased judgment.
Those with Alzheimer's may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.
What's normal? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.

6. Problems with abstract thinking.
Someone with Alzheimer's disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used.
What's normal? Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.

7. Misplacing things.
A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
What's normal? Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily.

8. Changes in mood or behavior.
 Someone with Alzheimer's disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
What's normal? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.

9. Changes in personality.
The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.
What's normal? People's personalities do change somewhat with age.

10. Loss of initiative.
A person with Alzheimer's disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.
What's normal? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.

Clinical Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a characteristic process with readily identifiable clinical stages. These clinical stages exist in a continuum with normal aging processes.  The clinical stages of AD can be described in alternative ways. For example, they can be described globally or they can be described in terms of constituent elements, referred to as clinical axes. One of these clinical axes, functioning and self-care, is particularly useful in describing the progression of AD. However, many conditions, particularly in aged persons, can interfere with functioning apart from AD. For these and other reasons, functioning changes alone do not adequately describe the progress of AD. However, the combination of global changes and their functional concomitants can provide a clear map or the progress of AD. This clinical map is enriched by noting the common behavioral concomitants of the stages. However, the behavioral and mood manifestations of AD are much more diverse than the cognitive and functional features of the disease progression.

Globally, seven major stages from normality to most severe AD are identifiable. Functionally, 16 stages and substages corresponding to the global stages are recognizable. These global and functional clinical stages and substages of aging and AD are summarized as follows.
Stage 1: Normal
Stage 2: Normal aged forgetfulness
Stage 3: Mild cognitive impairment
Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer's disease
Stage 5: Moderate Alzheimer's disease
Stage 6: Moderately severe Alzheimer's disease
Stage 7: Severe Alzheimer's disease

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