7 Stages of Alzheimer’s [1]

Stage 1: No Impairment

Stage 2: Normal aged forgetfulness

Stage 3: Mild cognitive impairment

Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer’s disease

Stage 5: Moderate Alzheimer’s disease

Stage 6: Moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease

Stage 7: Severe Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a degenerative disease. That is, the patient gets progressively worse over time. The decline happens both cognitively and physically. The physical components were unknown to me when my mother was first diagnosed. In my mother's case, the physical deterioration was more devastating than I could have ever imagined.

The progression of AD has traditionally been broken into three stages: early, moderate, and end. More specific identification models have emerged over the years. As I tried to learn more about what my mother was experiencing and how to care for her, I learned about the Seven Clinical Stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or more simply, 7 Stages of Alzheimer's. [1]

The expanded model is insightful in several ways. The first three stages are pre-dementia; they represent a period in which the disease may be present without recognizable deficits. It is now believed that Alzheimer’s disease begins to develop in the brain for years before the first symptoms occur. [2]

There is greater granularity in the last two stages at the other end of the scale — stages six and seven — each with multiple sub-stages. This granularity allows caregivers to anticipate the needs of the patient as the disease advances.

While it's impossible to put exact dates against each stage — and the speed of the progress through the stages will vary from patient to patient — I found these stages to be true to my mother's decline as the disease progressed.

As foretold by the diagnosing doctor, the stress on family and friends caring for a loved one with AD is overwhelming. That said, I still can't accept that it was harder for us than it was for my mother.

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. It robs the individual of their identity and then inflicts pain and suffering on their bodies. There is currently no cure for AD: Alzheimer’s disease is always fatal.

©2021 SmithThompson LLC

2021 Webby Award Honoree