Alzheimer’s Stages – From Impairment to Severe Decline
Remember of course that Alzheimer’s stages will vary from person to person, both in timing and symptoms. It is difficult to place a person in any specific Alzheimer’s stage because alot of overlap will occur.
You will notice that a tendency to wander and become lost is characteristic of Alzheimer’s stage 6 – sever or mid-stage Alzheimer’s. This is where GPS trackers come in – they enable you to locate a person with Alzheimer’s should they wander off or get lost.
The below is to be used as a rough guide only.
The seven Alzheimer’s stages below are based on research by Barry Reisberg of New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Centre.
Alzheimer’s Stage 1 – no signs of impairment (person functions normally)
There is no evidence of dementia or memory loss, when interviewed by a health care professional.
Alzheimer’s Stage 2 – very slight cognitive impairment
The person may notice mild memory loss, such as forgetting familiar words, people’s names, or where things are. The effects are not strong enough though to be noticed during a medical examination or friends, family or co-workers.
Alzheimer’s Stage 3 – mild cognitive impairment
This is when the symptoms of Alzheimer’s stage 2 have progressed to the level where friends, relatives or colleagues begin to notice problems. A medicial exam will show evidence of memory loss or problems with concentration. Further noticeable symptoms will include:
- Forgetting the right word for something, mid conversation
- Difficulty remembering people’s names, especially when introduced for the first time
- Difficulty conceptualising time and events, and therefore having issues with planning
- Increased difficulty with tasks (work or social), or reading and then immediately forgetting the material.
- Forgetting the location of objects, even valuable ones or ones that fit into a normal daily routine
Alzheimer’s Stage 4 – moderate cognitive impairment
This Alzheimer’s stage characterises mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. A medical exam will be able to notice symptoms in several areas:
- Forgetting things have happened over the last few days
- Difficulty with simple maths sums, such as counting down from 100 in 7s
- Increased problems with complicated tasks, e.g. organising a dinner party, paying bills or updating financial accounts
- Forgetfulness regarding one’s own life events
- A growing emotional/fearness defensiveness at one’s own recognition of the issues, e.g. becoming moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
Alzheimer’s Stage 5 – moderate/severe cognitive decline
This Alzheimer’s stage characterises moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Memory has more noticeable gaps, as do thought processes. A person with Alzheimer’s stage 5 will begin to need help with day-to-day activities. By now, symptoms will include:
- Forgetting simple information such as their own address or pbone number, or schools attended/companies worked for
- Becoming confused about their location or what day it is
- Having difficulty with simple maths sums, such as counting back from 40 in 4s, in 20 in 2s.
- Having difficulty with choosing clothing appropriate for the occasion or season, and require help
A person in Alzheimer’s stage 5 will still remember important information about themselves and their family, and not require help with eating or using the bathroom.
Alzheimer’s Stage 6 – severe cognitive decline
This Alzheimer’s stage characterises severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The person with Alzheimer’s stage 6 will find that memory continues to become impaired, their personality may begin changing and they will need extensive help with simple daily tasks. Symptoms include:
- Losing awareness of recent experiences as well as of the environment
- Having difficulty remembering their own personal history (although they will still remember their own name)
- Forgetting the names of important people such as partner or caregiver, be unable to recognise familiar from unfamiliar faces
- Requiring assistance dressing properly. Without help, mistakes such as wrong-footed shoes, odd socks, pajamas over clothes will happen
- Difficulty sticking to a regular sleep routine – may sleep during the day and become restless during the night
- Requiring assistance with simple bathroom tasks such as flushing the toilet, wiping or disposing of tissue
- Major personality and behavioural changes. The increasing seeming unfamiliarity of people may cause suspicion or accusations of being an imposter.
- Compulsive, repetitive behaviours such as tissue shredding or hand-wringing
- A tendency to wander or become lost
Alzheimer’s Stage 7 – very severe cognitive impairment
This Alzheimer’s stage characterises severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. In this final and most severe Alzheimer’s stage, people lose the ability to respond appropriately to their surroundings and environment, to be able to talk cohesively and eventually to be able to coordinate movement. Verbal output may be restricted to single words or phrases.
The person in Alzheimer’s stage 7 will need assistance with a majority of their daily routine and care, including mealtimes and using the bathroom. Motor coordination will become impaired, with difficulty smiling, sitting normally, or holding their head up. Reflexes will show abnormal responses, muscles may grow rigid, and the peristaltic response of swallowing will be impaired.