The Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease are described through different classifications.
The most common classifications systems are:
- Three Stages of Alzheimer’s;
- Seven Stages of Alzheimer.
Some doctors also use a diagnostic framework with five or six levels for understanding the symptoms of the disease.
Progression through these stages of Alzheimer's Disease may last from 8 to 10 years.
These figures are difficult to establish, while it depends extremely from the moment the diagnose is definitely set.
There are cases described of people living nearly 20 years from the time neuron change first occurs.
The systems describing the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease provide a great help to understand how the disease is going to develop. This will be helpful for making future plans.
It is important to note however that the progress differs from patient to patient. Not all symptoms are the same and the rate of development of the disease varies from case to case.
Generally spoken we can say people with Alzheimer’s die an average of four to six years after diagnosis. The duration of the disease can vary from three to 20 years, taking into account that the first period often goes unnoticed.
The Different Classifications of the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
The three stages classification describes the disease in:
The other classification systems provide more details in the symptoms of the disease.
The seven stages classification system distinguishes Alzheimer’s Disease as follows:
1. No impairment
2. Very mild decline
3. Mild decline
4. Moderate decline
5. Moderately severe decline
6. Severe decline
7. Very severe decline
Below we describe the three stages classification as an example of these classification systems. This also gives you an insight in what to expect.
The 3 stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Stage 1 of the Three Stages Classification: Mild/Early
This stage normally has a duration of 2 to 4 years.
The symptoms in this first of the 3 stages of Alzheimer’s Disease are:
- Recent conversation, appointments and happenings are forgotten directly after they happened. Sometimes they have difficulties in using the right words and understanding language.
- They repeat the same story a couple of times the same day.
- Problems with writing and using objects like the remote control of the TV set or mobile phones become difficult.
- They need reminders for daily activities.
During the development of the disease, the degree of memory loss progresses.
It’s not so rare if they get lost, even in the neighborhood of their homes. They may get problems in handling money and paying bills and need more time to complete normal daily tasks. More and more they have difficulties in making the right decisions, they exhibit rapid mood swings and their character changes.
This is the stage most people are diagnosed.
Stage 2 of the Three Stages Classification: Moderate/Middle
This stage takes normally 2 to 10 years (this is also an explanation for the difference in total duration of the disease)
In this stage you’ll find the consequences of the damage occurring in those areas of the mind that control language, logical reasoning, sensory processing, and realistic thoughts:
- They have increasing difficulties in solving problems.
- The growing degree of amnesia makes increasing problems in daily life.
- Confused speech, illogical reasoning, confusion about events that occur and also about time and place are seen more and more.
- They tend to get lost in familiar settings, not knowing any longer where to store the dishes after washing-up.
- Many patients suffer from insomnia and mood or behavioral symptoms worsen.
- Almost 80 percent of the Alzheimer’s patients have emotional and behavioral problems that worsen at moments of stress and changes of life.
- Sluggishness, stiffness, shakiness and worsening in walking affect the mobility and coordination.
- They may have hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, and may behave impulsively.
Their caregivers should provide them with structure, reminders and assistance with activities of daily living.
Stage 3 of the Three Stages Classification: Severe/Late
The duration of this third stage of Alzheimer’s Disease is: 1 to 3 and more years.
The main symptoms of this stage are:
- The past and present are confused.
- They don’t recognize familiar people (even their spouse and children) and places (like not remembering their own living room).
- Verbal skills difficulties, even loss of these.
- They are no longer capable to care for themselves.
- Walking problems, increasingly chances to fall to possible immobility.
- Increasingly risk of choking caused by problems with swallowing.
- Problems with bladder and bowel control, susceptible for infections.
- Extreme problems with mood, behavioral problems, hallucinations, and delirium.
The patients in this stage need total support and care. They often die from infections or pneumonia.