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How do I know the stage of my Alzheimer’s disease?

Dede Bonner
Health Education

Doctors classify Alzheimer’s disease according to the level of cognitive (thinking abilities) and functional (ability to take care of oneself) impairments that a person has. There are two staging systems, one with broad, descriptive categories and the other with seven numerical stages.

The stages of Alzheimer’s as classified by descriptive categories are:

-Mild: Symptoms include forgetfulness; confusion about time, dates, or places; and an increasing inability to perform complex tasks such as planning a calendar, balancing a checkbook, or shopping for groceries.

-Mild cognitive impairment (MCI): This new classification is being debated among medical experts as either a form of early Alzheimer’s disease without functional decline, as a normal aging process, or as a distinct condition. Most, but not all, people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimer’s.

-Moderate: At this stage, there are noticeable memory problems, difficulties with routine household chores and personal hygiene activities, and personality changes, such as increased irritability.

-Severe: The person needs continuous care, lacks any awareness, can be incontinent and unsteady on his or her feet, and shows increased aggression, disorientation, and agitation.

The second classification system for Alzheimer’s disease uses the following seven numerical stages:

 Stage 1: Absence of impairment

Stage 2: Minimal impairment

Stage 3: Noticeable cognitive decline

Stage 4: Early-stage/mild Alzheimer’s

Stage 5: Middle-stage/moderate Alzheimer’s

Stage 6: Middle-stage/moderate-to-late-stage/severe Alzheimer’s

Stage 7: Late-stage/severe Alzheimer’s

The 10 Best Questions for Living with Alzheimer's: The Script You Need to Get the Best Care for Your Loved One

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The 10 Best Questions for Living with Alzheimer's: The Script You Need to Get the Best Care for Your Loved One

A good mind knows the right answers...but a great mind knows the right questions. And never are the 10 Best Questions™ more important than after the life-altering diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. ...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.