The transition into a new stage of life is never easy, especially if your loved one is dealing with something like Alzheimer’s disease.
Surrounding yourself with a good community and a safe environment can help your loved one adjust and continue to live with dignity while dealing with a challenging condition.
But what’s the process of Alzheimer’s disease? Let’s explore the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s.
7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. It’s a condition that negatively affects memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living and require supervised care.
Knowing the 7 major clinical stages of Alzheimer’s can provide essential information to help understand and manage this disease.
Stage 1: Preclinical Alzheimer’s (No Impairment)
During stage 1, you most likely won’t see any noticeable symptoms. What leads you to an initial check-up may be due to your family history.
Stage 2: Very Mild Impairment (Normal Forgetfulness)
For stage 2 Alzheimer’s, the functional decline will happen faster than similarly aged people without Alzheimer’s. People may forget familiar words, family members’ names, or where they placed something.
Alzheimer’s disease predominantly affects adults over the age of 65. At this age, it’s common to have difficulties like forgetfulness.
Stage 3: Mild Impairment
The symptoms of stage 3 Alzheimer’s are less clear and more or less similar to stage 2. Only people close to someone in this stage may notice the signs.
Some stage 3 signs include:
- Getting lost while traveling a familiar route
- Finding it hard to remember the right words or names
- Being unable to remember something you just read
- Not remembering new names or people
- Misplacing a valuable object
- Decreasing concentration during testing
During stage 3, your medical professional may have to conduct a more intense interview to diagnose cases of memory loss.
Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer’s (Moderate Decline)
Stage 4 of Alzheimer’s disease lasts about 2 years and is the beginning of diagnosable Alzheimer’s disease. You or your loved one will have issues with complex but everyday tasks.
A decreased emotional response is frequent, especially in stressful situations.
Some new signs of decline appearing in stage 4 include:
- Decreasing awareness of current events
- Losing memories of personal history
- Trouble handling finances and bills
- Inability to count backward from 100 by 7s
Stage 4 is when the decline starts becoming more visible and settling in.
Stage 5: Moderate Dementia (Moderately Severe Decline)
Stage 5 lasts about 1 and a half years and requires more support. Those who can’t receive the proper support can experience anger and suspicion.
People in this stage will recall their own names and sometimes close family members—but current and significant events, weather conditions, or their current home address can be challenging to remember. There will also be confusion regarding time or place for people in this stage.
Stage 6: Moderately Severe Alzheimer’s
Stage 6 develops over the course of 2 and a half years, and some identifiable characteristics that may develop include:
- Fear of being alone
Along with these symptoms, people in stage 6 may struggle with:
- Being unable to choose their clothes and struggle with putting them on correctly.
- Decline in oral hygiene and needing help to adjust the water temperature before baths or showers.
- Struggling in the bathroom, forgetting to flush, and throwing toilet paper away. Along with this, people may lose control of their bladder and bowels and require assistance with cleanliness.
In stage 6 of Alzheimer’s disease, memory is much worse. People in this stage may start stuttering and become frustrated—it’s crucial to provide the proper care and supervision during this stage.
Stage 7: Severe Alzheimer’s
Stage 7 of Alzheimer’s disease includes 6 substages that last about 1 to 1 and a half years each.
These substages include:
- Speech is limited to 6 words or fewer
- Speech declines to only one recognizable word
- Speech is lost
- The inability to sit up independently
- Grim facial movements replace smiles
- No longer being able to hold their head up
Along with these substages, body movements will become rigid and cause severe pain. About 40% of people with Alzheimer’s can form shorter and stiffer muscles, tendons, and other tissues.
At this stage, the person’s ability to respond to the environment is gone. They’ll require help with almost all of their daily tasks, including eating and moving. Some people can become immobile during this stage as well.
Moving Forward With Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease progresses slowly over several years. Knowing these stages can help inform your preparation.
Alzheimer’s disease is challenging to navigate. No matter how much knowledge you have of the process—surrounding yourself with the right people and community can do wonders for your mental health.
Get in touch with professionals for more information on Alzheimer’s disease and find your ideal community.