While Alzheimer's disease signs can vary, the stages in which people develop the disease tend to follow a similar path.
With the help of Barry Reisberg, clinical director of the New York University School of Medicine's Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Center, the Alzheimer's Association details the seven stages of Alzheimer's disease.
According to the Association, the initial stage is hard to determine, as there are typically no significant signs of memory problems. Not only is it difficult for family members to determine, but they are frequently difficult for medical professionals to notice them.
The next phase of Alzheimer's disease is characterized by mild memory lapses, which may include forgetting certain words or the location of various belongings. Again, however, symptoms can be hard to pinpoint, the source confirms.
The third stage is where family and medical professionals typically really start to notice behavioral changes, such as trouble remembering names, difficulty performing common tasks, misplacing multiple belongings and problems concentrating on specific tasks.
At the disease's midpoint, clear-cut symptoms are easily recognized, the Association notes. Some of these telltale indicators may include an inability to count backwards from 100, short-term memory lapses, becoming moody easily and forgetting noteworthy events from their past.
At the fifth stage, symptoms often become so severe that the afflicted individuals may require help with various tasks. This may be especially true when Alzheimer's patients forget things like their address or telephone number, which is common in this stage. However, people are generally able to handle hygiene-related tasks on their own, such as showering or going to the bathroom.
That changes, though, at the sixth stage, which the Association refers to as the moderately severe stage. At this point, individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's disease typically need assistance dressing themselves, using the toilet and may have difficulty controlling their bowels. Patients may also have a tendency to wander, posing a risk to themselves and others.
In the final stage of the disease, Alzheimer's patients are totally reliant on others. They typically cannot carry on a conversation and may only utter certain words or phrases. It is at this point that homecare providers may need to admit those they are caring for to a managed care facility.
The Association notes that these are the general symptoms of each stage of Alzheimer's disease. However, because Alzheimer's signs can overlap, it can be difficult to pinpoint the specific stage of the disease a person is in.