About Alzheimer's

About Alzheimer's
PicnicHealth Team
December 14, 2022
Blog post originally written by the AllStripes community team. AllStripes was acquired by PicnicHealth in 2023.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer's is the most common form of Dementia and is characterized by how it impacts a human's behavior, thinking, and most importantly, memory. The symptoms can worsen over time, and the individual may have difficulty carrying out daily activities. Memory lapses, or mild memory loss, are usually one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease and symptoms continue to worsen over time, although the rate at which the disease progresses can vary. 


Alzheimer's is a prevalent disease, with over 6 million Americans estimated to have Alzheimer's across all age groups in 2022, 73 percent of whom are 75 years or older. Although most studies have found no significant difference in the risk of developing Alzheimer's between men and women, almost two-thirds of Americans that have been diagnosed are women. Furthermore, studies have also shown that older Black Americans are twice more likely to develop Alzheimer's and other dementias, than older White Americans. It is expected that by the year 2050, 12.7 million people, 65 years or older may develop Alzheimer's.

Are dementia and Alzheimer’s the same thing?

Though Alzheimer’s and dementia are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. Dementia is a general term for when an individual suffers a consistent decline in cognitive function often leading to difficulties in the ability to perform their day-to-day activities.

Several different conditions can cause dementia, and it can take many forms. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Specifically, Alzheimer's is characterized by complex changes in the brain, which can lead to damage of healthy neurons in the brain, in turn causing the symptoms associated with Alzheimer's.

Subtypes of Dementia

There are multiple forms of Dementia. Here are the most common subtypes:

  1. Alzheimer's Disease 

In this subtype, the person affected may have difficulty remembering where they are in time, and their short-term memory may be compromised. There are seven stages of Alzheimer's disease, which typically progress as the condition worsens over time.

  1. Lewy Body Dementia 

Lewy Body dementia is the second most common subtype of the disease. Many experts describe it as a combination of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. One of the most prominent symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia is visual hallucinations. 

  1. Vascular Dementia

This type of Dementia is the result of damage to brain tissue caused by cardiovascular problems. 

  1. Frontotemporal Dementia 

Frontotemporal Dementia is caused by damage to the Frontal or Temporal lobes of the brain. Damage to these areas of the brain can affect the person’s ability to think, speak, and make decisions, leading to symptoms of this subtype.


Here are some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s that someone with early onset disease may exhibit:

  • Memory loss (short-term) 
  • Impaired concentration, inability in problem-solving and planning
  • The inability to complete daily life tasks 
  • Feeling out of place and time 
  • Unable to calculate the distance between spaces and forgetting items in different places 
  • Poor decision making
  • Not being mentally present 
  • Mood changes or other personality/behavior changes 

What are the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is usually broken into four stages. Let’s take a closer look at these different stages and how they differ: 


Alzheimer’s disease begins before any symptoms are visible. This is known as the preclinical stage, and can only be detected with special tests run in a laboratory. The preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease may last as long as decades - changes in the brain can be seen long before any behavioral changes are identified. As more advanced technology becomes available, it’s slowly becoming possible to detect Alzheimer’s disease in the preclinical stage. Researchers are currently working on ways to detect preclinical Alzheimer’s using a combination of brain imaging, biomarker tests, and cognitive tests. 

Mild (early stage)

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a person may still be living a normal life. Driving, working, and participating in social activities are all still possible at this stage, but the individual may sometimes experience memory lapses. It often starts with small things, like forgetting familiar words, or where specific items in the home are located. 

Moderate (middle stage)

In the moderate or middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease, the individual typically requires a deeper level of care. This is the longest stage of Alzheimer’s disease, and can often last many years. Generally, someone in the middle stage of the disease shows more intense signs of dementia, or memory loss. They may commonly confuse words, experience mood swings or become angry or frustrated, and forget important information like where they live, what day it is, or where they are. 

Severe (late stage) 

As the disease progresses throughout the brain, symptoms become much worse. In the later stages, individuals with severe Alzheimer’s disease require 24/7 care. Affected individuals usually don’t understand where they are, lose the ability to have a conversation, and experience difficulties walking, sitting, and swallowing. 

When it comes to the different Alzheimer’s stages and life expectancy, it’s important to note that the rate of progression between the four stages varies a lot between different individuals. Often, the severity of the disease at the time of diagnosis has a big impact on the individual's life expectancy.


PicnicHealth Team

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Create a List

List the names of all the doctors, hospitals, and other facilities your loved one visits regularly, along with those they have visited in the past. Try to go back as far as you can, striving for at least the last 5-10 years, but do your best. Even if you can’t remember them all, having a strong baseline can help you quickly identify gaps in records.

Ensure You Have the Appropriate Legal Status

It is important to make sure that you are fully empowered to make decisions on behalf of your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Your relationship status with the patient may not be enough to legally give you access to your loved one's medical information. It is a good idea to talk to an expert about securing special legal status, such as Power of Attorney (POA), a legal document that allows an individual to name someone as their decision maker should they no longer be able to make decisions on their own.

Gather and Organize the Medical Records in One Place

It’s important to have all of your loved one’s medical records together in one spot. This makes it much easier for you and your loved one’s physicians to accurately map the patient’s medical journey and more easily share information between doctors. Fortunately, tools exist to make record management and access simple. A free resource like PicnicHealth helps you collect and organize all of this information. PicnicHealth’s intuitive timeline allows you to pinpoint data across the medical history, eliminating your need for keeping heavy binders filled with paper records or keeping track of multiple software portal logins.

Review the Medical Records to be an Informed Advocate

The better you understand your loved one's medical history, the better you can advocate on their behalf. Access and understanding of this information will help you to ask informed questions with physicians. Through regular communication backed by the data in the medical records, you can help your loved one’s care team develop a more successful care plan.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

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Together, we can make a difference.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

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Build a support network.

When you’re juggling appointment times and insurance claims, putting a robust support system together might not strike you as the most urgent task. Investing the time to cultivate relationships with people can turn to in times of need will pay dividends. The next time you need a last-minute ride or just someone to listen, you won’t be on your own.

There are many condition-specific support groups and support groups for caregivers generally in person or online. In addition to the encouragement and empathy they provide, support groups can be a helpful source of tips, resources, and recommendations for navigating caregiving.


Stay organized.

The backbone of effective caregiving is organization. Keep medical information, appointment schedules, and medication lists in order. Use a planner or a digital service like PicnicHealth to stay on top of your responsibilities. This attention to detail can prevent future complications and reduce day-to-day stress.


Explore treatments and clinical trials.

We’ve seen incredible breakthroughs in treatment over the past couple of years, powered by patients and their caregivers participating in research. Stay in the loop about the latest in medical advancements and available resources that could benefit your loved one. Whether it’s a new therapy option or a community service that aids independence, being informed can make a world of difference in the quality of care you provide.


Make time for self-care.

It may seem self-centered to focus on self-care—but when you feel good, you can be a better caregiver. Whether it’s exercise, a mindfulness practice, a soak in the bath, or just time to rest when you need it, carve out those moments in the day when you can unwind, reset, and stay healthy mentally and physically. Think of it as building up your reserves of kindness, patience, and understanding—which can only benefit your loved one. No one can pour from an empty cup.

Having trouble managing your loved one's medical records?

Easily manage all of your loved one's medical records and contribute to ongoing Alzheimer's research with PicnicHealth.

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LC-FAOD Odyssey: A Preliminary Analysis, presented at INFORM 2021

Data from real-world medical records:

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

16 yrs old

Median age at enrollment

38% Female

15 providers / patient

7.5 years of data / patient

Data from patient-reported outcome (PRO) survey

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

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However, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of protein for your individual needs. In general, a diet with moderate protein intake (about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day) is recommended for people with kidney diseases.

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