Many experts agree that Alzheimer’s disease has reached epidemic
proportions in the U.S. You might already know that Alzheimer’s
causes memory loss, but there is much more involved with this disease
than just problems with one’s memory. Alzheimer’s disease
develops and progresses gradually, causes damage to the brain, and results
in death. It is currently incurable, although intensive research initiatives
are ongoing. If you or a loved one is thought to have Alzheimer’s
disease, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for at
Riverside Community Hospital.
Changes in the Brain
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it
triggers complex changes that
destroy brain cells and impair function. In the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s, known as the preclinical
stage, patients are asymptomatic; however, their brains are already undergoing
the changes that are characteristic of the disease. Amyloid plaques and
tau tangles develop. The neurons, which are necessary for communication
in the brain, cease to function properly and begin to die off. Eventually,
the brain begins to shrink.
Onset of Symptoms
There are many possible indicators of Alzheimer’s disease and in
the early stage of the disease it can be difficult to tell if the symptoms
are “normal” or indicative of a medical problem. Generally,
if a person experiences memory loss, cognition impairment, or other problems
that interfere with daily life, it’s a good idea to consider getting
an evaluation for Alzheimer’s.
Stages of the Disease
There are different ways to categorize the stages of Alzheimer’s,
but perhaps the simplest is to refer to them as the mild, moderate, and
severe stages. In the mild stage, Alzheimer’s patients have trouble
with thinking clearly, remembering information, and executing simple tasks.
In the moderate stage, damage in other areas of the brain causes impairments
with language, sensory processing, and reasoning. Confusion tends to worsen
and delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations may develop. Severe Alzheimer’s
is characterized by total dependence on others for care. Eventually, essential
functions of the body shut down.
Riverside Community Hospital is your partner in wellness. Our state-of-the-art
medical facility in Riverside connects patients to
neurology and neurosurgery care, along with heart health services, organ transplant procedures, and
robotic surgery. For general information about our hospital services,
you can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (951) 788-3463.