Understanding the Stages and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Stage 1: No impairment

In the first stage of Alzheimer’s Disease, there are no noticeable symptoms. While changes have started in the brain, they have not progressed enough to impact the functioning of the brain. 

Stage 2: Very Mild Decline

At this stage, the loss of abilities is hardly noticeable or easy to attribute to other things. Possibly get lost going somewhere the individual gone many times in the past. While they shouldn’t have gotten lost, they can attribute it to not paying attention or daydreaming.

Stage 3: Mild Decline

By Stage 3, the mental impairments start to become apparent. Friends and family members are likely to start noticing problems with memory, coordination, and confusion. There may be difficult finding the right words while speaking, organizing things or thoughts, remembering people’s names, or keeping track of valuables. 

When symptoms become noticeable, it is essential to see a physician undertake a memory test to detect potentially impaired cognitive functions. Some elderly may resist seeing a doctor out of fear of losing their independence. However, there are serious safety concerns for not only the individual impacted but also all those around them. The dangers are particularly real if the individuals still live alone or drive.

At this stage, the individual may benefit from seeing a counselor with an understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease, who can help them through these early stages with what is to come. For example, an anxiety therapist in NYC can help patients learn to enjoy the time they have left by learning tools to help them control their anxiety. 

Stage 4: Moderate Decline

By Stage 4, there is no question that a mental decline is happening. Hopefully, by this stage, the individual is under the close care of a physician who understands Alzheimer’s Disease.  Some of the symptoms at this stage will include having trouble with basic math problems, losing their short-term memory, no longer able to handle paying bills or managing money, and forgetting important details of their past. While some may assert that many people have trouble with short-term memory, the short-term memory loss experienced by Alzheimer’s patients is more profound than normal memory loss. For example, a busy mom may forget what she ate for breakfast. Someone with Alzheimer’s would struggle to remember if they ate breakfast.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline

This is when their inability to care for themselves starts. They may have difficulty getting dressed. There will be serious confusion and an inability to recall small details. While the individual is still able to function independently in a lot of ways, such as bathing and using the bathroom alone, they will have a hard time living alone. Additionally, living alone at this point is likely very dangerous. At stage 5, the individual may still recognize close family members but may appear lost in time. 

Stage 6: Severe Decline

This stage includes regular confusion of where they are or what is going on around them. They are unable to recognize most people. They are unable to remember their personal history. At this point, they need help with their daily activities, including feeding and caring for themselves. By Stage 6, most need 24-hour nursing care by professionals that have experience and understanding with Alzheimer’s Disease.

By Stage 6, it is common to see a noticeable change in behavior. The individual may become restless, agitated, and even combative. Normally calm and loving people may start yelling or swearing at everyone around them. They are also prone to wandering, and many Alzheimer’s patients need to be confined for their safety.

Stage 7: Very Severe Decline

The final stage of the disease is when it becomes terminal. By stage 7, the individual is likely non-verbal and appears unaware of where they are or who is around them. They may know single words or phrases, but they are unlikely to use them appropriately. Additionally, they will have no awareness of their condition, and they need help with all daily activities. Near the end, most lose the ability to swallow.