The Stages of Alzheimer’s

Quality care of residents with Alzheimer’s disease depends on staff who understand what the resident is experiencing.  Among many things that makes Alzheimer’s unique is its progressive nature.  Not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress through the disease at the same rate.  To understand this progression, the Alzheimer Association recommends the following seven-stage framework:

(Adapted from

Stage 1: No impairment

  • Normal function.
  • The person does not experience any memory problems.

Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline

  • May be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses — forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. But no symptoms of dementia can be detected during a medical examination or by friends, family or co-workers.

Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline

  • Early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms.
  • Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration.

Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline

  • Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
  • At this point, a careful medical interview should be able to detect clear-cut symptoms in several areas.

Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline

  • Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, and individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities.

Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline

  • Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Memory continues to worsen, personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities.

Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline

  • Severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In the final stage of this disease, individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, to carry on a conversation and, eventually, to control movement. They may still say words or phrases.

Learn more about the stages, including common signs and symptoms at

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