Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that every patient experiences differently. For example, the rate at which it progresses varies from person to person. However, in most cases, it is possible to divide the progression into three general stages: mild, moderate, and severe.
Below is a look at the different stages of the disease. Note that because the symptoms are subject to variation and overlap between the stages, it is often difficult to place a person into a specific stage. As a result, what follows should only be used as a general guide.
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1. The Mild Stage
The mild stage is the earliest stage of Alzheimer's disease. In this stage, the disease may not affect an individual's ability to live independently. They may still be able to handle basic daily tasks including work and driving. Even so, they may start to see certain symptoms such as lapses in memory and forgetfulness that affects their ability to recall common words. They may also find themselves losing things more regularly than they once did. These issues may become noticeable to friends and family. A consultation with a physician may help them to uncover what the issue is.
2. The Moderate Stage
The moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease is often the one that lasts the longest. It can go on for many years. During this stage, it will be necessary to provide the person with Alzheimer's disease with a higher level of care. The moderate stage is when other symptoms of the disease may become noticeable to others. These symptoms can include:
- Memory Loss
The memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease can include: not remembering important events in your past, as well as personal information, like your address and telephone number.
- Aberrant Behavior
Changes in behavior can include becoming withdrawn in social situations, or situations that are mentally taxing in other ways. In some cases, people with the disease become more suspicious and may exhibit compulsive and repetitive behavior.
In many cases, people with moderate Alzheimer's disease will not know where they are or what day it is.
3. The Severe Stage
An individual in the later stage of the disease may gradually lose their ability to respond to anything in their environment. Over time, they may not be able to communicate at all. As the disease progresses through this stage, they may lose control of their body including loss of the ability to move.
This is the point at which a person with Alzheimer's disease will need the highest level of care. They will need assistance around the clock when it comes to basic activities. Symptoms at this stage include:
- A lack of awareness regarding recent events
- An inability to identify their surroundings
- Loss of physical abilities
- Increased susceptibility to infections, like pneumonia