Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease typically progresses slowly in three different stages- early, middle, and late. Since Alzheimer’s affects people differently, the symptoms described in each stage may not be true to every individual. On average, an individual with Alzheimer’s lives 4 to 8 years after being diagnosed. The stages below provide a general description of common symptoms experienced during each stage of Alzheimer’s Disease.

A woman is helping an old man ride his bike.

Early Stage Alzheimer’s

During this stage of the disease, an individual may still be independent; however they may begin to feel as though they are having memory lapses (such as forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects).

Common symptoms:

  • Difficulty coming up with the right word or name.
  • Difficulty remembering names when introduced to new people.
  • Having difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings.
  • Forgetting material that was just read.
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object.
  • Experiencing increased trouble with planning or organizing.

Middle Stage Alzheimer’s

This stage is typically the longest stage as it can last for many years. During this stage, dementia symptoms are more pronounced. Individuals may experience confusion and require a greater level of care.

Common symptoms:

  • Being forgetful of events or personal history.
  • ​Feeling moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations.
  • Being unable to recall information about themselves like their address or telephone number, and the high school or college they attended.
  • Experiencing confusion about where they are or what day it is.
  • Requiring help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion.
  • Having trouble controlling their bladder and bowels.
  • Experiencing changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night.
  • Showing an increased tendency to wander and become lost.
  • Demonstrating personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding.

Late Stage Alzheimer’s

This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s Disease. Individuals commonly experience immense memory and cognitive decline and require assistance with performing daily activities. At this stage it is likely that the individual with Alzheimer’s needs a great level of care.

Common symptoms:

  • Require around-the-clock assistance with daily personal care.
  • ​Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings.
  • Experience changes in physical abilities, including walking, sitting and, eventually, swallowing
  • Have difficulty communicating.
  • Become vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia.
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