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Identifying 7 Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Aug 17, 2007
Alzheimer's disease is commonly classified into seven distinct stages. Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease, meaning that it can progress at various levels over a period of time, with or without any clear warnings. Acute patterns of the disease can be detected early, but the progression cannot be reversed at any of the stages. Preventative action is essential to maintaining daily functioning, and there are various activities that can help slow down the progression of Alzheimer's at any of the stages.

The first stage of Alzheimer's disease is a period of no impairment, identified as basic normal function. A physician or medial professional can assess the person's judgment, reasoning, and memory abilities at this stage, and healthy functioning is the key trait of this 'stage.'

The second stage of Alzheimer's disease is a period of very mild cognitive decline. These early warning signs may include basic memory lapses that involve misplacing objects, forgetting particular places, or forgetting people's names. It is not an exceptionally serious condition, but can be an indicator of a forthcoming disease.

The third stage of Alzheimer's disease is a period of mild cognitive decline, one step above stage two. This may require diagnosis, and problems with memory and concentration will be monitored with an interview and basic testing. Memory and cognition can be measured with reading comprehension tests, word-finding problems, and simple memory games or exercises.

The fourth stage of Alzheimer's disease is known as moderate cognitive decline. During this stage, a person may have an impaired ability to perform basic mental arithmetic, and cannot remember recent events. This is an indicator of impairment of the short-term memory, and they may also have difficulty performing complex tasks such as making dinner or managing their finances. Personal history memory may also be distorted.

The fifth stage of Alzheimer's disease can be defined as moderately severe cognitive decline. During this stage, severe gaps in memory are evident and the person may have difficulty with cognition and basic comprehension. They can easily forget important details, and may need help getting dressed or remembering the day of the week.

In the sixth stage of Alzheimer's disease, the sufferer will be experiencing severe cognitive decline. Memory will continue to get worse, and there may be significant personality changes. The person may have an inability to remember key personal events, and will often forget the name of their friends and family. They can have difficulty sleeping, and will tend to take long naps. At this stage, delusions are also common.

Stage seven is the most severe stage of Alzheimer's disease, and can be classified as a very severe cognitive decline. This is the final stage where the sufferer loses their ability to function; they may have difficulty responding to communication, and an inability to process thoughts or experiences. They lose their ability to move and function in day-to-day life, and may need assistance with simple tasks. Swallowing may be impaired, and the sufferer may need help with sitting, standing, and walking. Basic reflex responses can be severely damaged during this stage, and the sufferer may also become despondent and lose their ability to communicate basic needs.
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