Alzheimer’s three stages of disease were formulated by clinicians based on detailed questionnaires over many years. While there are variances within each stage, the symptoms are distinctive enough to warrant separation.
Indeed, staging this terrible disease helps both clinicians and caregivers tailor specific therapies to fit the patient.
Alzheimer’s statistics are devastating with an estimated 5.7 million Americans. Of this number, there is an estimated 5.5 million people age 65 and older. In addition, approximately 200,000 seniors aged 60+ have a mild form of Alzheimer’s.
This disease typically progresses slowly in three general stages:
- mild (early stage)
- moderate (middle stage)
- severe (late stage)
Alzheimer’s Three Stages: Progression of this Disease
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease worsen over time, and its progression can vary between patients. But on average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but also can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.
The stages provide a general roadmap on the development and severity of this disease. Keep in mind that these stages may overlap, depending on the specific patient.
Alzheimer’s Three Stages: Mild Stage
In the mild stage, the person may recount having memory lapses, such as forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects.
During a detailed medical interview, doctors may detect problems in memory or concentration. Common difficulties include:
- Difficulty coming up with the right word or name
- Trouble remembering your name when introduced to you
- Difficulty remembering material that you just read
- Losing or misplacing a valuable object
- Inability plan, organize, and carry out a task
While Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible, early diagnosis can allow a person the opportunity to live normally for as long as possible and plan for the future.
Alzheimer’s Three Stages: Moderate Stage
Moderate Alzheimer’s can last for many years. It is at this stage, that the patient requires a greater level of care.
At this point, patients have greater difficulty performing tasks such as paying bills, but they may still remember significant details about their life.
They confuse words, get frustrated or angry-easily, and neglect their hygiene and daily tasks. They also have difficulty communicating.
These symptoms will be noticeable and may include:
- Forgetfulness of events or about one’s own personal history
- Feeling moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
- Unable to recall their own address or telephone number, high school, or college they graduated
- Confusion about where they are or what day it is
- Needing help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and somnia at night
- Risk of wandering and becoming lost
- Paranoia, delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding
Alzheimer’s Three Stages: Severe
In the severe stage, patients can longer respond appropriately to their environment. They’re unable to carry on a conversation or control their movements. Short and long term memory is poor, cognitive skills are in major decline, they need major help with daily activities.
Here are the symptoms
- Need round-the-clock assistance with daily activities and personal care
- Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings
- Experience changes in physical abilities, including the ability to walk, sit and, eventually, swallow
- Have increasing difficulty communicating
- Become vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia