The stages of Alzheimer’s disease range from normal functioning and no impairment in stage 1 patients to very severe cognitive decline in stage 7, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It can be challenging to determine the stages of the disease, since some stages overlap.
Alzheimer’s disease affects sufferers individually, and the progression of the disease is difficult to predict, notes the Alzheimer’s Association. During stage 1, those with Alzheimer’s have no impairment of functioning, memory problems or dementia. In stage 2, very mild cognitive decline occurs, although this may be normal due to age-related changes in cognition. The person afflicted may have lapses in memory or begin to forget familiar words, but family or friends do not notice dementia at this point.
Mild cognitive decline noticeable by others is a hallmark of stage 3 Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. At this stage, sufferers have trouble remembering names, performing tasks and keeping up with objects. At this stage, it is clinically possible to diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s in some individuals.
Stages 4 and 5 range from mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s to moderately severe or mid-stage disease, characterized by moderate to moderately severe cognitive decline, notes the Alzheimer’s Association. By stage 6, the disease causes progressively severe cognitive decline, and the sufferer may not even be able to remember past events or recent experiences. Stage 7 is late-stage disease with very severe cognitive decline with impaired swallowing, muscle rigidity and inability to feed or use the toilet independently. Individuals affected may lose the ability to control movement, carry on conversations or respond to their environments.