Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Stage 1: No impairment: The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia.

Stage 2: Very mild decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease): The person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses — forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. But no symptoms of dementia can be detected during a medical examination or by friends, family or co-workers.

Stage 3: Mild decline (early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms): Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration. Common stage 3 difficulties include:

  • Noticeable problems coming up with the right word or name
  • Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people
  • Having noticeably greater difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings Forgetting material that one has just read
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object
  • Increasing trouble with planning or organizing

Stage 4: Moderate decline (Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease): At this point, a careful medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut symptoms in several areas:

  • Forgetfulness of recent events
  • Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic — for example, counting backward from 100 by 7s
  • Greater difficulty performing complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, paying bills or managing finances
  • Forgetfulness about one’s own personal history
  • Becoming moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations

Stage 5: Moderately severe decline (Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease): Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, and individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities. At this stage, those with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Be unable to recall their own address or telephone number or the high school or college from which they graduated
  • Become confused about where they are or what day it is
  • Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic; such as counting backward from 40 by subtracting 4s or from 20 by 2s
  • Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
  • Still remember significant details about themselves and their family
  • Still require no assistance with eating or using the toilet:

Stage 6: Severe decline (Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease): Memory continues to worsen, personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:

  • Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings
  • Remember their own name but have difficulty with their personal history
  • Distinguish familiar and unfamiliar faces but have trouble remembering the name of a spouse or caregiver
  • Need help dressing properly and may, without supervision, make mistakes such as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on the wrong feet
  • Experience major changes in sleep patterns — sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night
  • Need help handling details of toileting (for example, flushing the toilet, wiping or disposing of tissue properly)
  • Have increasingly frequent trouble controlling their bladder or bowels
  • Experience major personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions (such as believing that their caregiver is an impostor)or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding
  • Tend to wander or become lost:

Stage 7: Very severe decline (Severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease): In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases. At this stage, individuals need help with much of their daily personal care, including eating or using the toilet. They may also lose the ability to smile, to sit without support and to hold their heads up. Reflexes become abnormal. Muscles grow rigid. Swallowing impaired.

Related Resources

Kelly started her journey into senior living as an Activities Director. She worked her way up to Business Office Manager, and eventually in Administration. During her career, she has served as a Compliance Manger, Employee Trainer, and Marketing Director, and has opened three memory care communities. You may even see her carrying a paintbrush around Memory Lane Cottage, as she truly immerses herself in all parts of community management. However, the one position that has remained constant, is acting as a bridge between the resident and the family. Kelly states: “So many people are scared about talking about their loved one’s disease. Family members can be embarrassed to talk about the behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s and the family dynamics unique to their situation. They can be reluctant to ask for help, feeling guilty they can no longer provide the care their loved one needs. Over the years, both of my grandmothers lived in communities I managed, and I feel that gives me a unique perspective of ‘sitting on both sides of the desk’. Each resident has a very unique set of challenges associated with their disease progression. I think the wonderful part of Memory Lane Cottage is that with a smaller population, we can truly create a very unique care plan for each individual, which is nearly impossible to do in a larger setting.” Nowadays, you can catch Kelly with one of her therapy dogs or even her parrot, spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s and related disorders. Her favorite quote is: “Alzheimer's Sucks, but Memory Care Doesn’t Have To”
Taylor started volunteering in activities at a Memory Care Community back in 1997. When she graduated in 1999, with a degree in Aging Studies, she was offered a job in Marketing and then opened one of the first Memory Care Communities in the Tampa Bay area. Taylor went on to work a successful career as a Regional Marketing Manager. Her favorite part of her work was training and supporting marketing teams and the connections she made with the FAMILY Caregivers – holding their hands and helping them make some of the biggest decisions they would make as a Caregiver. Taylor has worked on many projects over the years- such as FACES of Alzheimer’s, Co-Chairing The Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and has held many fundraisers to support Alzheimer’s research. She loves to present on Aging Related Issues so that we can all help Caregiver’s better understand the Aging process. Taylor is dedicated to working with individual Caregivers to find out what is going on in their “Caregiver Journey,” and help connect them, so they know they are not alone. Her favorite quote is “Enjoy the Journey.”
I am originally from upstate NY and have spent my entire career in the Executive Director role. My major responsibilities are first and foremost the health and well-being of the residents. I always encourage open, professional communication among family members and staff members. It is my sole responsibility to respond to the needs of the residents, families, and visitors by providing immediate assistance. My number one motto in life is: "LIFE isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's learning to DANCE IN THE RAIN!!! ENJOY LIFE