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Press Room

Alzheimer’s Action Day is Sept. 21: Understanding the Stages of Memory Loss

09.16.2011
Contact:  Julie Uehara Sur, Phone: (330) 375-7117

Contact: Julie Uehara Sur, Phone: (330) 375-7117, Email: ueharaj@summahealth.org

AKRON, Ohio, Sept. 16, 2011More than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death. Although there is no cure, research shows effective care and support can improve a person’s quality life.

In honor of Alzheimer’s Action Day Sept. 21, Summa Health System encourages everyone to understand the stages of memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease – whether it’s for yourself or a loved one. Also, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Summa is offering free memory screenings on Nov. 15 to determine if a person is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

“An individual’s progress through this disease is unique, but there are symptoms that appear to progress in a predictable pattern,” said Maryjo Cleveland, MD, co-interim medical director of Summa Health System’s Post Acute and Senior Services. “From mild cognitive impairment through the process to the final stage, it’s important to be able to recognize symptoms and know that there is support available for both the person with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers.”

In the Mild Cognitive Impairment Stage, the symptoms often mirror normal aging, making it difficult to diagnose. Approximately 50 percent of patients at this stage will develop early Alzheimer’s within the next five years. Symptoms include:

  • Consistent slight forgetfulness; may not remember who was at a family gathering or will double or triple check finances to ensure they are managed correctly
  • Oriented except for time relationships; may forget appointments if they are not written down or on a calendar
  • Slight impairment in problem solving; may become overwhelmed by big tasks such as packing for a trip or planning a family gathering
  • Slight impairment at work or in social groups
  • Hobbies, intellectual interests are slightly impaired

Symptoms experienced during the Mild Stage can begin up to two years prior to diagnosis and last through two years after diagnosis. A person may experience:

  • Recent memory loss that may begin to affect job performance; can’t remember what s/he was just asked to do
  • Confusion about places and getting lost on the way to a place that always was familiar
  • Loss of initiative and difficulty starting projects
  • Change in mood and/or personality
  • Impaired judgment
  • Routine chores often take longer than before
  • Issues regarding the management of finances and paying bills

The Moderate Stage begins a few years after diagnosis and may last up to 10 years after diagnosis. Early in this stage, the following symptoms may be evident:

  • Increase in memory loss and confusion
  • More trouble driving
  • Problems following recipes; leaving stove on
  • Forgetting to take medications

Then, later in this stage, symptoms may expand to include:

  • Having trouble recognizing friends and family members
  • Repeating self; trouble finding the right word
  • Inability to focus attention to read or watch TV
  • Trouble with bathing/dressing; often refusing help
  • Potential hallucinations
  • Need for increased supervision

The Final Stage lasts one to three years and includes experiences such as:

  • Can no longer recognize family or self-image when looking in a mirror
  • Loses weight even when eating a balanced diet
  • Increased tendency to sleep
  • Must completely rely on others for care; requires 24 hour supervision
  • Can no longer communicate with words; uses grunting sounds
  • May want to touch everything or put things in her/his mouth
  • Experiences loss of bladder control
  • May experience seizures, have difficulty swallowing, be prone to skin infections

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and available resources, call the
Summa Center for Senior Health at (330) 375-4100 or visit summahealth.org/seniors.

To register for the free memory screenings on Nov. 15, call (888) 720-5318. The screenings will be held at the Summa Center for Senior Health at Summa Akron City Hospital, New Horizons’ Adult Day Services at Summa Western Reserve Hospital, Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital, Summa Barberton Hospital and Robinson Memorial Hospital, an affiliate of Summa Health System. Times vary per location.

About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit www.summahealth.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/summahealth and Twitter at www.twitter.com/summahealth.

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