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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progresses slowly, and early detection of its signs and symptoms can prolong your loved one’s life. However, every person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease experiences it differently. 

Experts use a simple and straightforward phase model where AD is diagnosed early, moderate, and late. Others categorize AD into seven granular stages to better understand and find the best aid and illness progression. 

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a slowly progressive and irreversible mental disorder that affects a patient’s brain, which results in memory loss. It involves daily routine or skills that make a person unqualified to perform any given tasks. Most people develop AD later in the prime of their life or the mid-60s, also known as late-onset AD. on some instances, people can experience signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s between the 30s to mid-60s. (Source: medicinenet.com)

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific illness, while dementia is the general term that refers to mild or severe cognitive decline. As a caregiver, it’s vital to understand every stage to provide proper care for your loved ones. Here’s how you can identify every sign and phase of Alzheimer’s. 

What Are the 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Every person with Alzheimer’s experiences the disease differently, but people tend to experience a similar trajectory from the beginning of the illness to its end. The precise number of stages of Alzheimer’s is somewhat arbitrary. Some experts use a simple three-phase model(early, moderate, and end), while others have found a granular breakdown to be a more useful aid to understanding the illness’s progression. (alzheimers.net)

1st Stage: No Impairment

The cognitive decline in the first stage is undetectable, and there are no memory loss or issues to identify AD to potential patients. That means regardless of whether the patient has AD or other types of dementia, indications are untraceable. 

2nd Stage: Minimal Cognitive Decline

For the second stage, most patients (seniors) may notice minor memory loss, issues, or problems with their daily routines like household items. However, you may not distinguish memory loss from common age-related issues. Patients can still perform effectively in various fields and pass any memory loss test. Physicians, families, or relatives won’t detect whether their loved ones suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. 

3rd Stage: Lenient Decline

At this point, friends and loved ones can notice signs of cognitive decline or memory loss issues in seniors. Memory tests are affected when performed, and your attending doctors can quickly identify weakened mental capacities.  

Patients with stage three AD can have difficulty: 

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Communicating/Conversing
  • Remembering people’s names, mostly new acquaintances
  • Quickly lose valuables and possessions

4th Stage: Medium Cognitive Decline

This stage has clear-cut signs among patients. Most people with stage 4 AD affect their cognitive capacities, including solving simple calculations and having short-term memory like they cannot recall recent activities, including their food. They may not be able to pay bills or manage finances and forget details of life histories. 

5th Stage: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

Patients with stage five Alzheimer’s illnesses require help from someone to tend and perform daily tasks or routines. They may also have significant confusion, difficulty presenting themselves or dressing correctly, and inability to remember small details like their phone number.

In some instances, some people with stage five AD can function correctly. Typically, seniors can still tend to their needs like bathing themselves and are toilet independent. Some people can recall life histories, their families, friends, youth, childhood, and more. 

6th Stage: Severe Decline

Six stage AD may require professional care as constant supervision is needed. Patients daily routine are compromised, and symptoms are:

  • Toilet and shower dependencies
  • Unawareness of their surroundings or environment
  • Significant confusions
  • Difficulty to recall family, friends, or relatives faces
  • Difficulty to remember personal history
  • Potential behavioral issues
  • Major personality alterations
  • Complete supervision

7th Stage: Critical Cognitive Decline

This is the critical stage of this terminal illness as patients are near their death beds. People with stage seven AD lost their ability to communicate effectively with everyone nor respond to their surroundings. Though they can still utter phrases or words, their insights have been lost regarding their condition, making them dependent on professional care or routine assistance. At some point, patients can lose the ability to consume effectively. 

What is the average life expectancy of people with Alzheimer’s?

AD treatment won’t prevent the illness progression now and can lengthen the patient’s life. What’s certain is that this terminal illness affects your body and cognitive capacities, further affecting your life and independence. While medications can slow down their effects before getting worse, most treatments are designed to help patients improve the quality of their life moving forward. 

Life expectancy varies for each person with AD. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is eight to 10 years. In some cases, however, it can be as short as three years or as long as 20 years.

AD can go undiagnosed for several years, too. The average length of time between when symptoms begin and when an AD diagnosis is made is 2.8 years.

Source: healthline.com