Alzheimer’s disease is considered progressive, which means that symptoms get worse over time. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, typically a patient will experience 7 key stages of Alzheimer’s disease during their illness. In this article we’ll discuss each of the seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease in detail. Keep reading to learn more about the changes in cognitive ability, memory and personality that can be expected over time.
Note: Alzheimer’s symptoms vary greatly between patients. As such, the following 7 stages of Alzheimer’s are only considered general guide. Not every patient will experience these exact same symptoms, or same disease progression rate.
Alzheimer’s Stage 1: Before Impairment
Research suggests that Alzheimer’s may present pre-symptoms or warning signs years, and even decades before a diagnosis is possible. Scientists are hopeful that, with ongoing research–into the genetic, environmental, and even emotional causes of Alzheimer’s–and technological advancement, one day we’ll be able to easily identify stage one of this disease. At this point, it will also likely be possible to treat the illness before symptoms truly begin to show. But, for now, most of us will never know if we are already showing signs of Alzheimer’s stage one.
Alzheimer’s Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Impairment
Stage two of Alzheimer’s disease presents itself with mild forgetfulness and irritability. Unfortunately, at this point, it’s difficult to tell if symptoms are the sign of natural aging, or if they are something a little more sinister. At this stage, most people don’t feel their symptoms are any real cause for concern. It’s therefore very uncommon for stage two patients to seek medical attention.
Alzheimer’s Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline
Symptoms in the third stage of Alzheimer’s disease include difficulty remembering words and names, especially the names of new people. In this stage it retaining information, organization, and planning becomes increasingly difficult, which can often cause issues at work and in social settings.
Many people seek medical care at this point, but even with cognitive testing, it’s difficult to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at this stage.
Alzheimer’s Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline AKA Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
Stage four of Alzheimer’s disease presents symptoms
including: decreased ability to perform tasks that we’re previously familiar. For example, making dinner, paying bills, and washing the car may become difficult, and are sometimes forgotten entirely. Often, patients in this stage of the illness feel withdrawn, or out of touch with reality.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, stage four shows clear indications of Alzheimer’s which can be detected during medical examination. In other words, this stage is the earliest an individual can receive an accurate Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
Alzheimer’s stage 5 is commonly referred to as mid-stage
Alzheimer’s disease. During this period of the illness, symptoms begin to get serious, and are therefore easier to identify. Symptoms during stage 5 include major memory gaps, inability to remember their address, phone number, and even the date.
It’s normal for individuals experiencing stage five Alzheimer’s symptoms to feel agitated. This is understandable. If your loved one is acting out during this stage of illness, it’s important to be there for them. Likely, your family member is fully aware that their brain is no longer functioning normally. It’s only natural for them to feel angry and resentful about their situation, and sometimes they might take it out on the people closest to them.
According to the Alzheimer’s association, people in stage five are often still able to retain personal knowledge about themselves. For example, their own names, and those of their children.
Alzheimer’s Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline
Alzheimer’s stage six is called mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. For most, this stage of the illness is when personality changes begin. If your loved one is suffering with Alzheimer’s it’s important for you to prepare yourself for this stage, because the person you knew will likely begin to disappear.
Symptoms of stage six include loss of awareness of recent experiences and surroundings, and they may begin wandering. This stage can be one of the most difficult for caregivers, because patients often lose the majority of their long term memory, and although they may remember faces, they usually forget the names of the people they love. During this stage they will need help with everyday tasks including getting dressed and using the bathroom. It’s also quite normal for patients to be combative, paranoid, compulsive, and even violent during this period.
As a caregiver, it’s important to watch the wandering-prone Alzheimer’s patient carefully during this time. Click here to learn more about how to manage wandering. Symptoms often get worse for an Alzheimer’s patients during the early and late parts of the day. Click here to learn more about sun downing.
Alzheimer’s Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline
Alzheimer’s stage 7 is called late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. This is the last stage of the illness before death. This will be the most difficult period of the illness for the patient, as well as family and friends. Symptoms during this period are severe, and include unrecognizable speech, refusal to eat, organ failure, difficulty walking and sitting upright.
It isn’t easy watching your loved one battle Alzheimer’s disease, but remember you’re not in this alone. Many families seek professional assistance, including hospice care or assisted living, during this extremely difficult time. You can learn more about your options by visiting the National Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
If you’re looking for a Stellar Memory Care Facility, look no further. Contact Stellar Senior Living today for more information about our Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities nationwide. Click here to find a facility near you or give us a call at 801.495.7000.
Stellar Senior Living is one of the leading providers of Alzheimer’s and Dementia care in the U.S.. Through our unique Rising Stars Program, we provide our memory care residents with a happy and fulfilled experience. We offer a wide range of activities, and use the Montessori method, which encourages residents to experience and do more. In addition, residents live within Memory Care Neighborhoods; living spaces specifically designed to support the cognitive challenges brought on by Alzheimer’s disease.