Understanding the Different Stages of Alzheimer's

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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, meaning that the symptoms will continue to grow worse over time. Alzheimer’s experts recognize multiple stages of the disease; however, there are different models. Some experts divide the stages into preclinical, mild, moderate, and severe stages, while others follow the seven-stage model. It is important to remember that regardless of these models, each individual with Alzheimer’s is unique and will progress differently. Not everyone experiences these symptoms or experiences them in the same order, and there can be some crossover between stages.

Stages One Through Three
During the first stage of Alzheimer’s, the individual does not exhibit any symptoms. The individual will begin to experience mild cognitive decline during the second stage; however, these issues are often mistaken for normal problems associated with aging. It is in the third stage that family members and friends may begin to discern the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The individual may exhibit some difficulties with simple daily tasks.

Stages Four Through Five
When the individual reaches the fourth stage, a medical professional is usually able to detect the symptoms, which can include personality changes in addition to a decline in function. The individual may begin to have trouble with more complex activities. The fifth stage encompasses moderately severe cognitive decline. Symptoms involving memory problems and cognitive function are much more noticeable. While the person may remember significant facts, such as the name of a spouse, he or she may be unable to recall what day it is.

Stages Six Through Seven
Severe cognitive decline takes place in stage six. During this stage, the individual requires self-care assistance for simple tasks, and he or she may exhibit significant behavioral and personality changes. Issues such as wandering and delusions may become a problem. In the final stage of Alzheimer’s, the individual loses the ability to communicate, to control movements, and to care for him or herself.

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