The Stages of Alzheimer's
By Carol Simpson

Although not everyone experiences the same symptoms in the same order or with the same degree, we can generally characterize the progress of the disease in the following stages, which may last from three to 20 years. Note that these represent the stages of brain deterioration.

Stage 1 - No symptoms of Alzheimer's are seen.

Stage 2 - FORGETFULNESS Very mild cognitive decline For example, problems such as: vagueness of where familiar objects are, complaints about not remembering well, forgetting names once well known. There is however, no loss of abilities in social interactions or in employment situations.

Stage 3 - CONFUSION Early Stage: Mild cognitive decline For example, problems such as: getting lost when traveling to a familiar location; noticeably lowered performance level at work; trouble finding words and names; little retention from reading; little or no ability to remember names of new people; loss of a valued objects and trouble concentrating.

Stage 4 - Late stage Confusion: Moderate cognitive decline For example, problems such as: decreased knowledge of current and recent events; loss in memory of personal history; decreased ability to handle travel or finances; and inability to perform complex tasks. Appropriate responsiveness to outside stimulation decreases sharply. Denial of any problem, and withdrawal from challenging situations are common.

Stage 5 - DEMENTIA Early stage: Moderate severe decline For example: the person can no longer survive without some assistance. Patients can't remember names of people or places in their lives. They may be disoriented about time and dates. However, they will require no assistance when using the bathroom or eating, but may need help getting dressed.

Stage 6 - Middle stage: Severe cognitive decline For example. the person may forget the name of the spouse and be unaware of events in his or her life. They are entirely dependent on others for survival. They may have trouble sleeping in a regular pattern.

Stage 7 - Late stage: Very severe cognitive decline For example, all verbal abilities are lost and he or she needs help eating and using the bathroom. Eventually they lose ability to walk, the brain appears to no longer be able to tell the body what to do.

(c) copyright 1996

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