The stages of Alzheimer ’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is, unfortunately, a progressive disease that means the symptoms worsen over time. Alzheimer’s may uniquely affect each person. Hence the stages of Alzheimer’s cannot be well-defined; the symptoms may overlap from one stage to the other.

Stage 1 : Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease

There might not be any remarkable symptoms in the early phase of Alzheimer’s. At this stage, the disease can be detected only with the help of an MRI or a PET scan which may reveal changes in the brain.

Stage 2 : Mild cognitive impairment

You may notice that they are

  • Forgetting something just discussed or read about
  • Losing belongings frequently
  • Walking into a room and forgetting the reason for it.
  • Needing constant reminders or to-do lists.

At this stage, your loved one is still independent and active; they are able to fulfill most of their social and familial responsibilities. You may only have to help them by reassuring them that you are there to take care of any lapse.

Stage 3: Early stage Alzheimer’s

At this stage, the memory and thinking decline starts becoming perceptible to others too.

You may notice that they

  • Repeatedly talk about the same things or asks the same questions
  • Are not able to associate names with faces
  • Require frequent reminders about plans and appointments
  • May forget to take medicines or pay bills on time

At this stage, your loved ones may require understanding and support. They will still be independent, but you may have to ease their stress by patiently dealing with their confusion and reminding them of plans and appointments.

Stage 4: Moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease

At this stage, thinking and memory skills will deteriorate visibly and noticeably.

You may notice that they

  • Will fumble while doing everyday tasks like cooking
  • May be disoriented regarding the month and the season
  • May mix up addresses and directions
  • Get frustrated or anxious often
  • Are often confused about where they are and about what time of the day it is
  • Are unable to groom himself appropriately
  • May be moody and withdrawn
  • Exhibit personality and behavioral changes like suspiciousness and delusions
  • Sometimes mistake one person for the other
  • May exhibit mood swings and aggressive behaviour

As cognitive skills worsen, the sufferer may start depending on you and may need assistance for personal care and daily tasks like laundering, cooking, cleaning, and finances.

It may be safer to escort and monitor sufferers, so they do not wander and get lost. Also, ensure that they abstain from driving.

You may have to help them stay involved and active by increasing their socialization.

Stage 5 Severe Alzheimer’s disease

As the disease progresses, most basic abilities like eating, walking, etc., begin to diminish. At this stage, thinking and reasoning skills deteriorate further. The sufferers start losing connection with their environment.

You may notice that they

Begin to withdraw into themselves
May not be able to construct sentences or communicate
May fail to recognize near and dear ones
Have trouble controlling the bladder and the bowels
May be incoherent and not able to express their needs
May become unresponsive

This stage can be particularly difficult for caregivers, as your loved one may not show any signs of recognition, become completely dependent, and require round-the-clock assistance. They may be prone to infections like pneumonia and kidney infections.
At this stage, you have to see that your loved one is well-fed and well-hydrated, as they may not be able to tell you if they are hungry or thirsty.
You may not be able to reach out to them, but keep communicating as your love will reach them even if your words won’t.