The Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) declared the annual celebration of World Alzheimer’s Day on 21st September. With financial assistance from various organizations, the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) distributes resources around the world during this time for the purpose of organizing sensitisation drives and spreading awareness. Since every affected person might experience the disease differently, it becomes imperative to understand how the progression of Alzheimer’s may occur in people. For this purpose, medical and healthcare professionals refer to the seven-stage framework.
What are the Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s?
No Cognitive Decline - In this pre-diagnosis stage, no signs of impairment have manifested in the person yet.
Extremely Mild Cognitive Impairment - The affected person might manifest common symptoms of ageing like forgetfulness, and a general sense of carelessness, such as misplacing an object or forgetting where they belong.
Mild Cognitive Impairment - At this stage, forgetfulness might be aggravated and the person will find themselves losing their ability to concentrate. The person may also struggle to engage with daily household chores. This stage can in fact, last for nearly seven years before the complete onset of Alzheimer’s.
Moderate Impairment - The symptoms become more evident at this stage, and the person might struggle to remember important life events, experience short-term memory loss, find difficulty in doing simple calculations, etc. The person might be in denial about these problems, and consequently, they might withdraw from social settings.
Moderately Severe Impairment - Patients might require assistance in carrying out regular activities. At this stage, they may forget how to dress or may feel confused about things all the time. Losing orientation of place and time may occur during this stage.
Severe Cognitive Impairment - At this stage, a full-time caregiver will be required for the patient. This “Middle Dementia” stage is characterized by a decline in speech abilities, loss of vision, drastic personality changes and mood swings, and losing the memory of friends and family members.
Very Severe Cognitive Impairment - Late-stage dementia is characterized by a complete decline in communication abilities. Memory is also impaired irrevocably, and around-the-clock assistance is necessary to help the person get through their day. Sometimes, patients may also lose their psychomotor abilities and find that they cannot walk or need help with movement.
Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, the condition of the patient is likely to worsen with time. Caregivers and family members must, therefore, be patient, gentle, and compassionate in their dealings with the patient.