• March 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

    7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
    Stage 1:
    No impairment (normal function)

    Unimpaired individuals experience no memory problems and none are evident to a health care professional during a medical interview.

    Stage 2:
    Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease)

    Individuals may feel as if they have memory lapses, especially in forgetting familiar words or names or the location of keys, eyeglasses or other everyday objects. But these problems are not evident during a medical examination or apparent to friends, family or co-workers.

    Stage 3:
    Mild cognitive decline
    Early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms

    Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice deficiencies. Problems with memory or concentration may be measurable in clinical testing or discernible during a detailed medical interview. Common difficulties include:

    Word- or name-finding problems noticeable to family or close associates

    Decreased ability to remember names when introduced to new people

    Performance issues in social or work settings noticeable to family, friends or co-workers

    Reading a passage and retaining little material

    Losing or misplacing a valuable object

    Decline in ability to plan or organize

    Stage 4:
    Moderate cognitive decline
    (Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

    At this stage, a careful medical interview detects clear-cut deficiencies in the following areas:

    Decreased knowledge of recent occasions or current events

    Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic-for example, to count backward from 100 by 7s

    Decreased capacity to perform complex tasks, such as marketing, planning dinner for guests or paying bills and managing finances

    Reduced memory of personal history

    The affected individual may seem subdued and withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations

    Stage 5:
    Moderately severe cognitive decline
    (Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

    Major gaps in memory and deficits in cognitive function emerge. Some assistance with day-to-day activities becomes essential. At this stage, individuals may:

    Be unable during a medical interview to recall such important details as their current address, their telephone number or the name of the college or high school from which they graduated

    Become confused about where they are or about the date, day of the week, or season

    Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic; for example, counting backward from 40 by 4s or from 20 by 2s

    Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion

    Usually retain substantial knowledge about themselves and know their own name and the names of their spouse or children

    Usually require no assistance with eating or using the toilet

    Stage 6:
    Severe cognitive decline
    (Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

    Memory difficulties continue to worsen, significant personality changes may emerge and affected individuals need extensive help with customary daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:

    Lose most awareness of recent experiences and events as well as of their surroundings

    Recollect their personal history imperfectly, although they generally recall their own name

    Occasionally forget the name of their spouse or primary caregiver but generally can distinguish familiar from unfamiliar faces

    Need help getting dressed properly; without supervision, may make such errors as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on wrong feet

    Experience disruption of their normal sleep/waking cycle

    Need help with handling details of toileting (flushing toilet, wiping and disposing of tissue properly)

    Have increasing episodes of urinary or fecal incontinence

    Experience significant personality changes and behavioral symptoms, including suspiciousness and delusions (for example, believing that their caregiver is an impostor); hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there); or compulsive, repetitive behaviors such as hand-wringing or tissue shredding

    Tend to wander and become lost

    Stage 7:
    Very severe cognitive decline
    (Severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease)

    This is the final stage of the disease when individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, the ability to speak and, ultimately, the ability to control movement.

    Frequently individuals lose their capacity for recognizable speech, although words or phrases may occasionally be uttered

    Individuals need help with eating and toileting and there is general incontinence of urine

    Individuals lose the ability to walk without assistance, then the ability to sit without support, the ability to smile, and the ability to hold their head up. Reflexes become abnormal and muscles grow rigid. Swallowing is impaired.