What Alzheimer’s does to your body?

Asked by Anonymous

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that has multiple negative symptoms throughout its progression, most of which affect the brain and subsequently affect other areas of your body.  The most commonly known symptom associated with Alzheimer’s is memory loss.  Due to the degenerative nature of this disease, the effects on the brain are more subtle in the beginning.  You may notice a slight increase in forgetfulness; usually, small items are easily forgotten.  But the frequency will be increased.  As the severity increases, more important things may be forgotten, like where you live, who your family is, or even what year you are in.  Oftentimes this process can have a major impact on our emotional health; those facing this disease may become easily overwhelmed, confused, and agitated, leading to increased symptoms of depression.

In the later stages of Alzheimer’s, when the progression has become more severe, individuals will begin to lose the functioning of their physical body.  They become incontinent, resulting in the person soiling themselves.  Their muscles become weaker, making it more challenging to do simple tasks like cleaning up after themselves or lifting/carrying items that normally would not have been challenging for them.  At this point, they may require an aide or other person to assist in caring for their daily activities.  Unfortunately, their brain functioning continues to deteriorate, so they may forget who they are trying to help them and become combative with their helpers.  Also, their mood will be more labile; you may see these individuals become easily tearful, which is usually related to the negative feelings associated with losing their ability to function at a “normal” capacity.  They may also lose their appetite or even forget if they ate, which would only worsen the symptoms listed above. 

At this point, there is no “cure” for Alzheimer’s.  Some medications help slow the progression so that someone with this diagnosis can live out their lives with normal functioning for as long as possible.  Research also supports that exercise and good nutrition helps to prolong the inevitable progression of Alzheimer’s.  So if this is something that has genetic influence, then it is best to take good care of your body.