People with Alzheimer’s vary in how they experience the disease. It may develop at different ages in different people, and symptoms may be worse for some than they are for others.
There are 5 stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and these stages can help you understand what may happen as the disease progresses.
Stage 1 – No Impairment
During this stage, Alzheimer’s is not detectable, and no memory problems or other symptoms of dementia are evident.
Stage 2 – Mild Cognitive Impairment
In the mild cognitive impairment stage, a person has developed mild changes in the ability to think and remember. During stage 2, increased forgetfulness and decreased performance are likely to be noticed by the family members.
People with mild cognitive impairment may also have trouble judging how much time is needed for a task or have difficulty correctly judging the number or sequence of steps needed to complete a task. Their ability to multi-task and make sound decisions can also become harder.
Stage 3 – Mild Dementia – due to Alzheimer’s disease
Stage three comprises what is often described as mid-stage dementia. This is when it becomes clear to family and doctors that a person is having significant trouble with memory and the thinking w impacts their daily function. During this period, the problems in cognitive reasoning that you noticed in stage 2 get more obvious, and new issues appear.
Stage 4 – Moderate Dementia
During the moderate dementia stage of Alzheimer’s disease, people grow more confused and forgetful and begin to need more help with daily activities and self-care.
Your loved one may start to lose track of where they are and what time it is. They may have trouble remembering their address, phone number, or where they went to school.
They could get confused about what kind of clothes to wear for the day or season. You can help by laying out their clothing in the morning. It can help them dress by themselves and keep a sense of independence.
Stage 5 – Severe Dementia
During the final stage of the disease, dementia symptoms are severe. Because the disease is a terminal illness, people in this stage are nearing death. A person can lose their ability to communicate or respond to their environment. While they may still be able to utter words or phrases, they have no insight into their condition and need assistance with all activities of daily living.
When someone nears the end of their life, hospice care may be a good option. Hospice care can happen anywhere, and it’s a team approach that focuses on comfort, pain management, other medical needs, emotional concerns, and spiritual support (if desired) for the person and their family.