Alzheimer’s, a chronic disease that affects mental function and memory is a disease that progresses slowly from one stage to another. Usually, Alzheimer’s follows three main stages and 7 total stages: the mild stage, the middle or moderate stage, and the severity or the late stage are the main stages.
The Progression From One Stage To Another
In the mild or early stage, patients function independently even when they may have episodes of memory lapses. The onset symptoms of the disease, like remembering names and material read, become more evident.
In the middle stage, dementia (memory loss) symptoms become more pronounced. Patients typically have a harder time performing tasks. This is the longest stage of Alzheimer’s, and it can last for many years. It is at this stage that patients also begin to forget about who they are. The damage to the brain’s nerve cells makes it even more difficult to express thoughts or perform routine tasks.
The final stage of Alzheimer’s is severe. The dementia symptoms are quite brutal. Patients lose their ability to respond to the environment, engage in a conversation, and to control movement. The memory and cognitive skills worsen, and the patients will need round-the-clock care and assistance.
It is unbearable to see family or friends eventually become incapable of doing anything on their own. But before a patient gets to the final stage of the disease, they spend years in the middle stage, where the condition is not so severe. The progression of Alzheimer’s takes time.
But this is not the case for all patients since the speed of the progression varies because of factors like:
- The patient’s genetic makeup
- Environmental factors
- Age of diagnosis
- Other co-existing medical conditions
What Could Cause Alzheimer’s To Progress So Quickly?
Rapid progression of Alzheimer’s could be because of the following:
Infections like pneumonia, urinary tract infection, or even a sinus infection.
A reaction to prescription medications that the patient may be taking to treat another condition. These medications include anticholinergics, narcotic pain relievers, sedatives, corticosteroids and antidepressants.
- Lack of enough sleep or body fatigue
- Changes in the environment and their social life, for example, moving to a new place or the presence of new medical care staff.
- Vitamin deficiencies especially lack of B-12, thiamin, niacin, folate
- Thyroid problems like hypothyroidism
- Existing neurological conditions
- Autoimmune neurological disorders which contribute to the rapid progression of Alzheimer’s
- Paraneoplastic disorders cause a rapid progression of dementia
When an Alzheimer’s patient has any of these conditions, they are very likely to progress from one stage to the other very quickly. When it happens, it is important for the patient to see his or her doctor. The doctor will then be able to diagnose the complicating conditions and factors causing the rapid progression. They will also be able to reverse the progression when it is possible. Lastly, the doctor will ensure that the other causes of rapidly progressing dementia are excluded.
In summary, when Alzheimer’s is progressing rapidly, the patient should see a doctor who will carry out a medical evaluation and determine the exact cause of the progression. Treatment may be required to either reduce or reverse the symptoms.