The seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease are:
Stage 1. Preclinical stage or stage of normal observable behavior: In this stage, the person has a normal outward behavior. They do not show any symptoms related to changes in memory, mood, behavior or personality. At this stage, the presence of the disease can only be detected by specialized imaging techniques (positron emission tomography [PET] scan) that show how the areas of the brain function.
Stage 2. Very mild changes: In this stage, the person shows subtle symptoms such as forgetting a word or losing/misplacing things. These signs may not be noticeable by others including the doctor. They may also face difficulty in focusing or concentrating on their tasks. The symptoms are too mild to interfere with the person’s everyday life and they can live or work on their own. Such subtle symptoms are nonspecific for Alzheimer’s and may also occur with aging.
Stage 3. Stage of mild cognitive impairment (MCI): This is the stage when the signs of Alzheimer’s become apparent to the closed ones. The common signs at this stage are:
- The person repeatedly asks the same questions
- They forget something they just read
- They have trouble staying organized
- They find it difficult to make and execute plans
- They tend to forget names
- The person may find it hard to meet the requirements of their job or occupation. Taking retirement at this stage is advisable to manage the disease along with reducing the stress.
Stage 4. Mild Alzheimer’s disease: This is the stage in which the most specific signs of Alzheimer’s appear. Personality changes and memory impairment become worse. They may even forget the personal details. Simple tasks like shopping for groceries, preparing meals and managing finances become difficult.
The individual becomes unable to remember the date, a recent holiday, or a visit to a loved one. They may, however, remember their address at this stage. Some people may manage to live independently, but the near ones should help them with their everyday chores. They may show a lack of interest in their surroundings and avoid holding conversations or participating in activities.
Stage 5. Moderate Alzheimer’s disease: The person becomes incapable of living independently. They fail to realize where they are and for what purpose. They also lose track of time and date. They may not be able to remember their address, phone number and other personal details. They may forget to change their clothes unless they are reminded to do so. They also do not realize what to wear according to the weather or occasion.
Stage 6. Moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease: In this stage the individual needs to be assisted for simple activities such as getting dressed and going to the washroom. They may confuse people and relations, for instance, they may confuse their wife with their mother. They forget names but may recognize faces. This stage is often characterized by violent outburst by the patients. They may also exhibit loss of bowel and bladder control.
Stage 7. Severe Alzheimer's disease: The person needs help for basic needs such as eating, drinking, sitting up and walking. They may forget to smile. They may even forget how to smile or swallow their food properly. They often develop stiffness and joint deformities.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, slowly progressive disorder of the brain that affects memory and higher skills eventually making a person unfit to carry out the routine activities. Most people develop this disease in their mid-60s (late-onset Alzheimer’s) while for some the symptoms first appear between their 30s and mid-60s.
Can Alzheimer’s be cured permanently?
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. The progression of the diseases can be stopped or slowed by various drug and non-drug options. Medical help must be sought as soon as the symptoms appear.