Medical experts have developed stages of Alzheimer’s to describe how a patient’s abilities change as the disease progresses.
Of course, it is important to note that these stages are a general guide. Symptoms and effects vary greatly based on the individual patient as well as many other factors. In short, everybody with Alzheimer’s is unique. No two people experience the same symptoms and troubles.
The Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s
Barry Reisberg, M.D., clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine’s Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center, developed the following seven stage system.
Stage 1: No impairment. At this point, there is no evidence of symptoms related to Alzheimer’s.
Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline. Minor memory lapses occur from time to time.
Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline. Friends and family begin to recognize that the patient is having trouble with their memory.
Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline. A medical exam is needed to diagnose the problem due to forgetfulness, bouts of depression, and moodiness.
Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline. During this Alzheimer’s stage the patient begins to require help with daily activities.
Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline. Memory gets worse and personality changes set in.
Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline. In the final stage of Alzheimer’s the patient loses the ability to respond, control movement, or carry on a discussion.
Knowing the seven stages of Alzheimer’s is very important if you are currently caring for a loved one or will be doing so in the future. The earlier a problem is detected the sooner the patient can receive the appropriate medical care.
While some move through these stages one after the next, others tend to “skip around.” As noted above, Alzheimer’s stages can and will vary from patient to patient.