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Chapter Listing

Alzheimer's Disease and Falling: What's The Connection - DEMO

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a disease associated with a loss of memory and intellectual abilities. The risk of developing AD increases with advancing age and gradually gets worse over time. 

Stages of AD

Stage I--Mild AD (duration of 2-4 years)

The early stages are characterized by short-term memory loss and personality changes. During this time, persons misplace familiar objects, such as keys, forget names previously well-known, appointments, and daily events, and tend to get lost easily. The capacity to perform routine tasks in familiar surroundings is preserved but the ability to accomplish complex tasks, such as managing money and finances, becomes increasingly difficult. Persons tend to become passive (lack of spontaneity and initiative; lack of energy and enthusiasm) and begin to lose interest in activities previously enjoyed. 

Stage II--Moderate AD (duration of 2-10 years)
In the middle stage, there is continued memory loss, an onset of impaired understanding and speech, difficulties with self-care, and disruptive behaviors. Persons become increasingly confused, tend to pace and wander, become easily irritable and frustrated, and argumentative. Delusions and hallucinations become common. Many persons begin to experience urinary incontinence, sleep disturbances, and poor nutrition (i.e.., eating either huge or inadequate amounts of food). At this stage, caregiver supervision and/or assistance with some routine everyday activities, such as toileting and bathing, is usually required.

Stage III--Severe AD (duration of 2-4 years)
In the late stages, persons progress to requiring total care. They are no longer able to independently perform basic activities of daily living (e.g., dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, ambulating) or to make their needs known. Impairments of gait and balance (marked by small, deliberate steps; excessive forward lean when standing) are prominent. Behavioral symptoms, such as agitation, paranoia, visual hallucinations, and nocturnal confusion increase in frequency.  At this point, persons become susceptible to pressure sores, infections, fall-related hip fractures, and other life-threatening conditions.

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