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Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder wherein the person suffers from dementia due to severe impairment in brain function. Doctors say that one of the key reasons behind development of this disease is formation of protein 'plaques' and 'tangles' inside the brain that cause death of brain cells. As a result of which the person has trouble with memory, communication and awareness, mood and carrying out various other types of daily activities.

Essentially, seven stages are involved in the prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease which depend on the person’s behavior and memory.

7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

1.No Impairment / Pre-clinical state

The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are not all evident in the beginning. And this stage may last for years after years. There’s no hint of dementia and memory loss

2.Very Mild Cognitive Decline/Impairment – age related signs of Alzheimer's disease

The next stage is often confused with age-related memory problems because a person might experience sporadic memory lapses. However, the symptoms usually go unnoticed even during a medical check up.

3.Mild Cognitive Decline- early-stage Alzheimer's disease

Symptoms of dementia show up during this stage and people surrounding the concerned person can also make out. Though not that significant to affect social and personal life but the person faces considerable trouble in sense of judgment, conversation and remembering. The signs associated with mild cognitive decline are:

  • Difficulty in remembering new names and performing day-to-day tasks
  • Trouble in speaking up the right word in a sentence
  • Forgetting where he/she had placed some object

4.Moderate cognitive decline - Early-stage Alzheimer's disease

This stage follows mild cognitive impairment and the classical symptoms begin to develop which can be clearly detected by a doctor.

  • Forgetting recent activities more often and even personal experiences/history
  • Too much difficulty in carrying out complex tasks like organizing meetings, planning an event, managing finances, etc.
  • Significant changes in personality- withdrawing from people, irritation and anger, lack of energy and motivation, inattentiveness and similar other signs

5.Moderately severe cognitive decline -Mid-stage Alzheimer's disease

In the mid-stage the main symptom is- partial oblivion of memory i.e. in gaps. Although they might face problem in self-care activities, they still can manage. We explain the symptoms in details in the following points:

  • Confused most often, showing poor judgment and inability to recognize personal belongings
  • Forgetting phone numbers, address and work are stark signs and they try to make up stories to fulfil the memory gaps, but not completely.
  • Sometimes they need help in deciding clothes and related things because they remain too confused
  • They are not yet dependent completely on others

6.Severe cognitive decline- Moderately severe Alzheimer's disease

The condition of the person worsens and he becomes more and more dependent on others for self-care activities. They begin losing ability to distinguish faces and personal history completely and their characteristic change in behaviour is also noticed. Severe cognitive decline includes the following common symptoms:

  • Dependent on others for doing toilet chores
  • Confused while wearing clothes and putting on shoes. Needs help to determine the right one for the right feet
  • Major problem of becoming restless at night while sleeping during daytime.
  • Hand wringing, delusions, suspiciousness, irritation and irrational behaviour become prominent
  • Becomes unaware of self and surroundings, forgetting personal history
  • Unable to recall name and face of closed ones like caretaker and spouse

7.Very Severe cognitive decline  disease - late-stage Alzheimer's disease

This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s disease wherein a person loses ability to perceive his surroundings and communicate. We explain the condition of the person in the next points:

  • Complete diminution of physical abilities marked by inability to walk, stand, raise head, and move without other person’s assistance.
  • Loss of bowel and bladder functions, incapable of swallowing, muscles become rigid
  • Cannot converse with others and loses control over body movement
  • Completely dependent on others for self care, grooming and toilet
  • Patients do not smile although they may utter a word or two

These seven stages are marked throughout the progression of the disease. Patients are diagnosed with various kinds of cognitive and memory tests including CT scan and MRI. Treatments exist, nevertheless Alzheimer patients need holistic care for observing any kind of improvement.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 04, 2015