Alzheimer's disease patients have a gradual loss of brain function, which includes cognitive abilities. MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, notes that Alzheimer's disease patients have impairment of their language, memory, judgment and decision-making skills. Cognitive problems with Alzheimer's disease can take time to develop. The Alzheimer's Association explains that seven stages of Alzheimer's disease exist, ranging from no impairment to very severe impairment. By stage II of Alzheimer's disease, people begin to show very mild cognitive decline, which either means early signs of the disorder or age-related changes. During this time, people may have memory lapses, such as forgetting a word. By stage III, mild cognitive decline occurs. Symptoms that may occur during this stage include problems remembering names of new people, trouble coming up with the right word, and losing valuable objects.
As an Alzheimer's disease patient progresses into the later stages of the disease, the cognitive impairment becomes even more severe. For example, in stage V, which is moderately severe cognitive decline, patients have problems counting back from 20 by twos, recalling their address, and may become confused about the date. By the last stage of Alzheimer's disease, the Alzheimer's Association explains that patients lose the ability to carry on a conversation, control their movement and take care of themselves.
What types of treatments are available to protect against this cognitive decline? No cure exists for Alzheimer's disease, though medication attempts to slow down the progression. One such medication is memantine, sold under the brand name Namenda. An NMDA receptor, memantine may help patients with thinking problems, but it will not stop or reverse any cognitive deficits.
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