Disease progression may vary person to person, but patients generally experience seven distinct stages:
Stage 1: Alzheimer’s patients will not know they have the disease as they are fully independent. However, as mentioned before, Alzheimer’s can begin in the brain up to decades before symptoms become noticeable.
Stage 2: Patients will display normal forgetfulness for their age, but the memory of those with Alzheimer’s will decline quicker than those without. Often symptoms at this age are unnoticeable to observers, but they generally include forgetting words or misplacing objects.
Stage 3: This stage lasts about seven years, but symptoms become apparent to those close to the patient around two to four years. Patients may have trouble concentrating or forget things they just read. Some people may have to stop working.
Stage 4: A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is now possible. Patients have trouble with some everyday tasks, may forget memories from their personal life, and show limited emotional responses.
Stage 5: This stage lasts 1.5 years and patients need lots of support. They will forget major events, their current address, and can no longer live independently.
Stage 6: Memory is severely impaired to the point where patients will confuse family members, experience personality changes, and become paranoid. They will also need help with personal hygiene, dressing themself, and eating.
Stage 7: Severe Alzheimer’s has set in and occurs in phases that may last a couple years. Speech will become limited to simple sentences and may decrease to only single recognizable words. Patients may be unable to sit up on their own or hold up their head. Patients essentially become infantile.