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Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and What They Mean


Alzheimer's disease consists of three main stages: mild (sometimes called early-stage, moderate, and severe (sometimes called latestage). Understanding stages can help you plan ahead.

Mild Alzheimer’s disease. In mild AD, the first stage, people often have some memory loss and small changes in their personality. They may forget recent events or the names of familiar people or things. They may no longer be able to solve simple math problems. People with mild AD also slowly lose the ability to plan and organize. For example, they may have trouble making a grocery list and finding items in the store.

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease. This is the middle stage of AD. Memory loss and confusion become more obvious. People have more trouble organizing, planning, and following instructions. They may need help getting dressed and may start having problems with incontinence. This means they can’t control their bladder and/or bowels. People with moderate-stage AD may have trouble recognizing family members and friends. They may not know where they are or what day or year it is. They also may lack judgment and begin to wander, so people with moderate AD should not be left alone. They may become restless and begin repeating movements late in the day. Also, they may have trouble sleeping. Personality changes can become more serious. People with moderate AD may make threats, accuse others of stealing, curse, kick, hit, bite, scream, or grab things.

Severe Alzheimer’s disease. This is the last stage of Alzheimer’s and ends in the death of the person. Severe AD is sometimes called latestage AD. In this stage, people often need help with all their daily needs. They may not be able to walk or sit up without help. They may not be able to talk and often cannot recognize family members. They may have trouble swallowing and refuse to eat.

For more information visit websites on AD such as www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers, www.alzheimers.gov, or www.alz.org.


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