Alzheimer’s Disease is a disease that destroys memory and other important brain functions. It is the most common form of dementia — a group of brain disorders that cause memory loss, loss of language & communication skills, decreased attention & focus, poor judgment & decision-making, behavioral & social changes and eventual visual & motor decline. Like other forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease is progressive, meaning that symptoms may start out slowly and gradually get worse with time.
Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Initially in the early stage, patients with Alzheimer’s Disease may experience moments of confusion, forgetfulness, short-term memory loss, mild feelings of depression and subtle personality changes. As the disease progresses, patients enter the middle stage which is characterized by increasing memory problems, inability to learn or retain new information, confusion & disorientation, frequent inappropriate behaviors, possibility of hallucinations or delusions (in up to 60% of patients) and lack of self-control and insight. In the late stage of the illness, patients are unable to recognize family or friends, may lose all speech, will need assistance with all tasks and have increasing physical problems.
While there is not currently a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, medicine and other treatment options are available to help slow the disease progression and to help with management of specific symptoms, although often on a temporary basis.
At DMH, we are also fortunate to have an inpatient geriatric behavioral health unit for those patients with Alzheimer’s Disease who may require inpatient treatment for agitation, psychosis or depression. Our team of trained professionals will develop a treatment plan utilizing both medication and non-medication treatment options for each patient.