Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative, progressive brain condition characterized by declines in cognitive functioning such as memory, critical thinking skills, and the ability to perform tasks. Because memory loss is a normal effect of aging, it’s often easy to mistake early signs of Alzheimer’s for forgetfulness. There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease distinguished between the normal aging process and the signs of Alzheimer’s.
What are the stages of Alzheimer’s?
As measured by the FAST scale, there are seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Each stage is characterized as follows:
- Stage 1: Normal Adult. A person shows no obvious memory impairment and clinical tests show no measurable deficit.
- Stage 2: Normal Older Adult. A person shows the usual mild cognitive decline of old age and has a personal awareness of this change. They might occasionally forget names or where they placed objects like car keys.
- Stage 3: Early Alzheimer’s Disease. A person may have difficulty concentrating on tasks. They might falter during conversations or have difficulty retaining information that was just heard or read. They might frequently misplace objects, forget names, or forget words.
- Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer’s Disease. At this stage, a person’s Alzheimer’s disease may become more noticeable. Loved ones may note them losing interest in work and social situations, forgetting people they’ve recently met, or being disorganized in a way uncharacteristic to them. They also have a decreased ability to perform common tasks like managing finances or paying bills.
- Stage 5: Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. A person at this stage won’t be able to independently function and may need home caregivers. Their forgetfulness increases and they’ll become confused about the time, place, date, day of the week, and season. They might withdraw from social situations, forget personal history, and might be unable to make proper clothing choices.
- Stage 6: Moderately Severe Alzheimer’s Disease. A person will exhibit major gaps in memory and experience significant cognitive decline. They might experience personality changes and could be unable to distinguish familiar people.
- Stage 7: Severe Alzheimer’s Disease. A person will have lost their ability to verbally communicate and will experience a severe physical decline. They’ll experience progressive loss of basic physical ability including swallowing, walking, and sitting. They might have difficulty sleeping because of disruptions to their circadian rhythm.