Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological illness that strikes in old age. Today’s “Baby Boomers” are risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease, which impairs memory, mood, and ability to care for oneself. Patients of Alzheimer ultimately become dependent on others for basic bodily needs like feeding, elimination, and general hygiene.
Alzheimer’s brain atrophy affects your nervous system integrity, cognitive functioning, and mental health in seven stages.
Stage 1: Pre-Alzheimer’s disease
If you are genetically inclined towards developing Alzheimer’s disease, then you are part of the stage 1 category, even if you are not currently experiencing symptoms of memory loss. At this stage, your doctor may prescribe certain preventative measures to help avoid or delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Stage 2 Alzheimer’s disease: Very mild decline
At this phase, you may have become aware of certain cognitive problems associated with aging, such as frequent memory loss or confusion (“brain fog”).
Stage 3 Alzheimer’s disease: Mild decline
Some people show enough evidence for a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease at this time, but that is not usually the case. During this stage, friends and family may notice your inability to remember recent conversations, summon familiar names, or behave normally in social situations.
Stage 4 Alzheimer’s disease: Moderate decline
Stage 4 Alzheimer’s disease patients are sometimes still living independently at this point, although they require help with performing mental tasks such as arithmetic, organization, and planning. During this stage, cognitive decline includes short-term memory loss, impaired ability for math calculations, mood swings, and confusion regarding one’s own personal history or childhood.
Stage 5 Alzheimer’s disease: Moderately severe decline
At this phase, Alzheimer’s disease dementia patients approach complete dependence on others, and are not usually able to live alone. Sufferers exhibit noticeable gaps in memory, difficulty rationalizing, inability to recall once-familiar numerical codes (phone numbers, addresses), and obliviousness to the time or day or date.
Stage 6 Alzheimer’s disease: Severe decline
At stage 6 Alzheimer’s disease, patients require constant care. They may exhibit the following debilitating symptoms:
- Near-complete short-term memory loss
- Loss of awareness of physical surroundings
- Inability to distinguish childhood memories from recent events
- Frequent inability to recognize people closest to them, such as children or one’s own spouse
- Tendency to wander off and become lost
- Obsessive compulsive behavior
- Inability to dress oneself
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as frequent daytime napping and insomnia at nighttime
- Inability to perform basic hygiene tasks, such as bathing or wiping and cleansing oneself after using the bathroom
- Loss of bladder control or bowel movements
Stage 7 Alzheimer’s disease: Very severe decline
During this final stage of Alzheimer’s disease, patients are completely oblivious to their surroundings. They may utter words, but cannot comprehend or carry on conversations. Ultimately, they are unable to control bodily movements like walking, as well. Many require assistance in sitting upright or keeping the head elevated. In addition to brain atrophy, muscles also begin to deteriorate. They are sometimes unable to smile, use the toilet, or swallow solid foods. Hallucinations and mood disorders become most severe at this stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease and vitamin B12 deficiency
In several scientific studies, experts have noted cognitive health benefit when people suffering from age-related dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease receive supplementation of vitamin B12.
Some have also noted a high correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and increased risk for early-onset brain atrophy, as witnessed in pre-Alzheimer’s disease stages.
Elderly individuals are unable to absorb vitamin B12 naturally from food sources, due to a shortage of essential digestive enzymes, such as intrinsic factor. For this reason, doctors strongly advice senior citizens to supplement with non-dietary forms of vitamin B12, whether or not they develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Good sources of vitamin B12 supplements for the elderly include:
- Vitamin B12 injections
- Sublingual vitamin B12 tablets
- Sublingual vitamin B12 droplets
- Non-edible over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements