The Seven Stages Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that leads to personality changes, memory loss, intellectual slowing, and other symptoms. Although each person with Alzheimer’s is different, most progress through a series of stages, each of which is characterized by more serious Alzheimer’s symptoms.
The following seven stages were developed by researchers and physicians to describe how a person with dementia could change over time. Your doctor might collapse the seven stages into early/middle/late or mild/moderate/severe, so these classifications are provided as well. . It is important to note here that dementia affects every person in different ways so not everyone will experience the same symptoms or problems or necessarily follow the same pattern of decline. These ‘stages’ are used for guidance purposes only. Although the stages provide a blueprint for the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms, not everyone advances through the stages similarly. Caregivers report that their loved ones sometimes seem to be in two or more stages at once, and the rate at which people advance through the stages is highly individual. Still, the stages help us understand Alzheimer’s symptoms and prepare for their accompanying challenges.
Stage 1 There are no problems with memory, orientation, judgment, communication, or daily activities. You or your loved one is a normally functioning adult.
Stage : Moderate Cognitive Decline
At this stage, a careful medical interview detects clear-cut deficiencies in the following areas:
- Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic- for example, to count backward from 100 by 7s
- The affected individual may seem subdued and withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
Stage Five: Moderately Severe Stage
As Alzheimers progresses from moderate to moderately severe, people with the condition tend to develop signature characteristics over a couple of years:
- Inability to choose what clothes to wear
- Deteriorating cleanliness, beginning with oral hygiene
- Forgetting to flush or wipe
Alongside these key symptoms, memory worsens, and behavior changes continue. There may be signs of frustration, shame, or continued paranoia.
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Stage One: Preclinical Or No Impairment
Alzheimers disease begins before any symptoms become noticeable. People in this stage can function independently and are usually unaware that they have the disease. Individuals can remain here for years or even decades before symptoms become apparent. People with preclinical Alzheimers may stay independent if they have no other issues preventing them from doing so.
Risk Factors And Prevention
Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of biological ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, social isolation, low educational attainment, cognitive inactivity and air pollution.
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Beyond Memory Loss: How To Handle The Other Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s
There is a lot of talk about the emotional pain patients and caregivers suffer when a loved one loses memories to Alzheimers. But what about the other symptoms? Here are tips from a Johns Hopkins expert on what to watch for and how to manage.
#TomorrowsDiscoveries: From Dysfunctional Cells to Disease Dr. Rong Li
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Persons at this stage manifest deficits which are subtle, but which are noted by persons who are closely associated with the person with mild cognitive impairment. The subtle deficits may become manifest in diverse ways. For example, a person with mild cognitive impairment may noticeably repeat queries. The capacity to perform executive functions also becomes compromised. Commonly, for persons who are still working in complex occupational settings, job performance may decline. For those required to master new job skills, such as a computer or other machinery, decrements in these capacities may become evident.
MCI persons who are not employed, but who plan complex social events, such as dinner parties, may manifest declines in their ability to organize such events. This may be an early stage of Alzheimers, however, it is important for the person to seek medical help as soon as possible, to determine if a broad variety of medical conditions may be causing or contributing to the persons difficulties. Blood tests and an MRI of the brain should be obtained to assist in determining if the individual has MCI due to Alzheimers and whether there are other causes or contributing conditions to the persons cognitive decline.
Some MCI persons may manifest concentration deficits. Many persons with these symptoms begin to experience anxiety, which may be overtly evident.
Stage : Very Mild Cognitive Decline
Individuals may feel as if they have memory lapses, especially in forgetting familiar words or names or the location of keys, eyeglasses or other everyday objects. But these problems are not evident during a medical examination or apparent to friends, family, or co-workers.
- Word- or name-finding problems noticeable to family or close associates
- Performance issues in social or work settings noticeable to family, friends or co-workers
- Reading a passage and retaining little material
- Losing or misplacing a valuable object
Stage Two: Very Mild Cognitive Decline
Stage two may bring subtle changes in the individual, such as mild forgetfulness. These instances may include forgetting names or having trouble locating familiar objects. In the second stage of dementia, its difficult or impossible to notice these minor symptoms, and a diagnosis is not yet able to be reached.
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Memory Health Cte And Dementia
The Memory Health® supplement was the first brain supplement awarded a patent for the prevention and or treatment of neurodegenerative disease, specifically Alzheimers disease and dementia. It is currently available to everyone and delivers carotenoids and omega-3s directly through the blood-brain barrier to the brain.
Early Stage Of Alzheimer’s
In this first stage, there is mild forgetfulness that looks like the general forgetfulness that is typical as you get older. A person in this stage can still drive, go to work, and participate in regular activities. Sometimes friends and family start to notice slight symptoms at this stage. Common symptoms can include1,2:
- Forgetting material that has been recently read/just read
- Having more trouble with organizing or planning
- Forgetting where valuables have been placed
- Trouble managing money
- Forgetting names, especially of those recently met
- Having trouble doing challenging tasks at work
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Do Treatments Add Time To Life Expectancy
Experts simply dont know whether treatments help a person live longer with Alzheimers disease. AD and other similar dementias progress no matter what. Treatments like medications and therapies have been conclusively shown to help manage symptoms, meaning they make it easier to live with the disease, but they do not reverse symptoms. The memory of a person with dementia who takes medications like cholinesterase inhibitors, for example, will be slightly better than the memory of someone who is not on medication. Quality of life therefore improves with treatment. This means better years with dementia, but probably not more years.
Stage : Second Last Stage Middle Vascular Dementia
Individuals in this severe stage begin to lose memory and usually recollect things happened and things they did in their past. They become more delusional and even cannot remember close friends and family members names. Some bodily changes also turn up including incontinence, difficulty with muscle and motor functions and difficulty with controlling bladder flow. They need assistance to do daily activities and finish tasks. These signs and symptoms are enough to diagnose middle vascular dementia.
Weight loss: Almost all of the people with vascular dementia lose weight in the later stages of this disorder, although sometimes some people eat so much and put on weight. In fact, weight loss can affect their immune system, making the people fight infections more difficultly. It can also increase the possibility of falling. Ensure that they consume enough food and water. They can need encouragement with drinking and eating. Besides, problems with swallowing and chewing are common as their muscles no longer work properly.
Problems with continence: Many people cannot control their bladder and bowels. This can occur most or all of the time.
This is also a stage one on the list of vascular dementia stages that people should not miss out but consider changing their lifestyles to prevent themselves from getting this disorder.
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Does A Person With Dementia Know They Are Confused
In the earlier stages, memory loss and confusion may be mild. The person with dementia may be aware of and frustrated by the changes taking place, such as difficulty recalling recent events, making decisions or processing what was said by others. In the later stages, memory loss becomes far more severe.
Stage : Very Mild Decline
The senior may notice minor memory problems or lose things around the house, although not to the point where the memory loss can easily be distinguished from normal age related memory loss. The person will still do well on memory tests and the disease is unlikely to be detected by physicians or loved ones.
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Can Dementia Get Worse Suddenly
Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that it gets worse over time. The speed of deterioration differs between individuals. Age, general health and the underlying disease causing brain damage will all affect the pattern of progression. However, for some people the decline can be sudden and rapid.
How Important Are The Stages Of Dementia
The stages of dementia are just a guide and there is nothing significant about the number three. Equally, dementia doesnt follow an exact or certain set of steps that happen in the same way for every person with dementia.
It can be difficult to tell when a persons dementia has progressed from one stage to another because:
- some symptoms may appear in a different order to the stages described in this factsheet, or not at all
- the stages may overlap the person may need help with some aspects of everyday life but manage other tasks and activities on their own
- some symptoms, particularly those linked to behaviours, may develop at one stage and then reduce or even disappear later on. Other symptoms, such as memory loss and problems with language and thinking, tend to stay and get worse with time.
It is natural to ask which stage a person is at or what might happen next. But it is more important to focus on the person in the present moment. This includes their needs and how they can live well, and how to help them with this.
For more support on living well with dementia see The dementia guide: living well after diagnosis or Caring for a person with dementia: a practical guide .
And for more information about treatment and support for the different types of dementia go to the following pages:
The 3 Stages Of Alzheimer’s: What To Expect And What To Do
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, you are likely experiencing many different emotions including shock, fear, sadness, and worry. Knowing what to expect and how to plan ahead can provide a sense of control and important peace of mind. Alzheimers disease has three stages: early , middle , and late . Here is what to expect and what to do during each of them.
The Connection Between Cte And Dementia
CTE is considered a neurodegenerative disease and a form of dementia. While CTE and Alzheimers disease may seem similar, but they are significantly different. According to Indiana University, Alzheimers disease typically presents with memory complaints and problems, whereas the initial symptoms of CTE are often problems with impaired judgment and reasoning, impulse control and aggression.
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Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
Stage : Others Notice A Change In Your Attire And Hygiene
In stage five, loved ones may remark that our outfit is not appropriate for the occasion or weather. They may also tell us that our hygiene habits have changed we do not bathe as much as we have historically. These moderate memory problems may not be noticeable to us and we will likely feel that our outfit and hygiene are fine. At this point, a doctor can measure a change in our cognitive ability since our last appointment. Our diagnosis may become moderate cognitive impairment.
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Stage : Severe Cognitive Declinemoderately Severe Dementia
At this stage, the ability to perform basic activities of daily life becomes compromised. Functionally, five successive substages are identifiable. Persons initially in stage 6a, in addition to having lost the ability to choose their clothing without assistance, begin to require assistance in putting on their clothing properly. Unless supervised, the person with Alzheimers disease may put their clothing on backward, they may have difficulty putting their arm in the correct sleeve, or they may dress in the wrong sequence.
The total duration of the stage of moderately severe Alzheimers disease is approximately 2.5 years in otherwise healthy persons.
At approximately the same point in the evolution of AD, but generally just a little later in the temporal sequence, AD persons lose the ability to bathe without assistance . Characteristically, the earliest and most common deficit in bathing is difficulty adjusting the temperature of the bath water. Once the caregiver adjusts the temperature of the bath water, the AD person can still potentially otherwise bathe independently. As this stage evolves, additional deficits occur in bathing and dressing independently. In this 6b substage, AD persons generally develop deficits in other modalities of daily hygiene such as properly brushing their teeth.
Stages 6c, 6d, 6e
Mild Impairment Or Decline
The symptoms of Alzheimers are less clear during stage 3. While the entire stage lasts about 7 years, the symptoms will slowly become clearer over a period of 2 to 4 years. Only people close to someone in this stage may notice the signs. Work quality will decline, and they may have trouble learning new skills.
Other examples of stage 3 signs include:
- getting lost even when traveling a familiar route
- finding it hard to remember the right words or names
- being unable to remember what you just read
- not remembering new names or people
- misplacing or losing a valuable object
Your doctor or clinician may also have to conduct a more intense interview than usual to discover cases of memory loss.
Caregiver support: At this stage, someone with Alzheimers may need counseling, especially if they have complex job responsibilities. They may experience mild to moderate anxiety and denial.
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Progressing Through The Stages
The pace with which someone with Alzheimer’s moves through the stages differs from person to person. Each symptom affects the individual gradually, and not everyone is affected by all of them. On average, an individual with Alzheimers lives four to eight years after diagnosis. However, they may live significantly longer, depending on their overall health and various other factors.
Stage : Activities Of Daily Living Support
Stage six has five substages. At this stage, we need more than gentle reminders to make it through the day safe, healthy, and happy. During this stage, our doctor will also be able to measure more changes in cognitive function. They may diagnose us with a major neurocognitive disorder, the clinical term for dementia.
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Stage : Second Last Stage Late Vascular Dementia
This is the last but very important out of the vascular dementia stages that I would like to reveal in this entire article and want you and my other readers to know for good.
In case the condition has still progressed, there is not much medicine can do. People in this stage have basically no ability of speaking or communicating. The only thing you can do is to give people who are in the last stage of vascular dementia the possible care and love. They really need the help for all of their activities including eating, walking and using the toilet. This is known as the late vascular dementia.
Each individual with vascular dementia experiences the illness in their own way. However, these signs and symptoms described below often occur in the later stages of most cases.
Communication problems: The people with vascular dementia will experience problems with understanding what is happening around them. They find it hard to communicate with other people. Gradually, they may lose their speech or repeat a few words. However, their expression and body language can give you clues about their feeling. Many people can still return and receive emotional signals after they lose the ability to speak.
There are some things that can put you at risk of suffering from vascular dementia. Some of the risk factors can be controlled such as lifestyle, but some others cannot be controlled such as age and genes. Some risk factors contribute to underlying cardiovascular dementia.