Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease - Stages or general guides, and symptoms vary greatly. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate.
This seven stage outline is based on a system developed by a clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center.

Seven Stages of Alzheimer's

  • 1) No impairment - no signs
  • 2) Very mild decline
  • 3) Mild decline
  • 4) Moderate decline (early stage)
  • 5) Moderately severe decline (moderate or mid-stage)
  • 6) Severe decline (moderately severe or mid-stage)
  • 7) Very severe decline (severe or late stage)

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Stage 1: No impairment The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms.

Stage 2: Very mild decline Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease).

Stage 3: Mild decline Mild cognitive decline Early-stage Alzheimer's can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms.

Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration. Common stage 3 difficulties include:
  • Noticeable problems coming up with the right word or name

  • Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people

  • Having noticeably greater difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings

  • Forgetting material that one has just read

  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object

  • Increasing trouble with planning or organizing
Stage 4: Moderate decline (mild or early stage)

At this point, a careful medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut problems in several areas:
  • Forgetfulness of recent events

  • Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic — for example, counting backward from 100

  • Greater difficulty performing complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, paying bills or managing finances

  • Forgetfulness about one’s own personal history

  • Becoming moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations

Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline (Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer's disease) Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, and individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities. At this stage, those with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Be unable to recall their own address or telephone number or the high school or college from which they graduated

  • Become confused about where they are or what day it is

  • Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic, such as counting backward from 40 by subtracting 4s

  • Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion

  • Still remember significant details about themselves and their family

  • Still require no assistance with eating or using the toilet

Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline (Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer's disease) Memory continues to worsen, personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:

  • Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings

  • Remember their own name but have difficulty with their personal history

  • Distinguish familiar and unfamiliar faces but have trouble remembering the name of a spouse or caregiver

  • Need help dressing properly and may, without supervision, make mistakes such as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on the wrong feet

  • Experience major changes in sleep patterns — sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night

  • Need help handling details of toileting (for example, flushing the toilet)

  • Have increasingly frequent trouble controlling their bladder or bowels

  • Experience major personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions (such as believing their caregiver is an impostor), or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding
  • Tend to wander or become lost
Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline (Severe or late stage Alzheimer's disease)

In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases.

At this stage, individuals need help with much of their daily personal care, including eating or using the toilet. They may also lose the ability to smile, to sit without support and to hold their heads up. Reflexes become abnormal. Muscles grow rigid. Swallowing impaired.

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