Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert? How Can I Tell What Stage She Is In?
Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert is brought to you each week by the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center and Elayne Forgie.
Question: My aunt has Alzheimer’s disease. How can I tell what stage she is in?
Answer: There are actually 7 stages of Alzheimer’s disease:
Stage 1 -No impairment
Stage 2 – Very mild cognitive decline
Stage 3 – Mild cognitive decline
Stage 4 – Moderate cognitive decline
Each of these 4 stages are most often referred to as “mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease”. During this time the disease begins to spread in the hippocampus, and then to the frontal temporal lobe which affects recent memory, thinking, planning and how we learn new information.
Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline
Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline
These 2 stages are most often referred to as “moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease” and as “moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s”. During this time the disease moves further into the frontal temporal lobe and into the occipital and parietal lobes affecting behaviors, judgment, communication, sensory perception and ones attention to personal appearance.
Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline
This final stage of Alzheimer’s disease is referred to as “severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease”. In this final stage, the disease spreads throughout the entire brain and affects the persons ability to recognize anyone, including themselves. They can no longer control their bodily functions and the brain no longer has the ability to tell the body what to do. 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.