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The 7 Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease will show signs and symptoms in many different ways. But experts have found similarities in patterns as the condition progresses, enabling doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier. This can provide help for the patient by beginning treatment sooner and aid loved ones in the planning of long-term care. It is important to consider the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and how it can be treated.

There are some who use a simple three phase guide (early, moderate and end), but the most common system is the 7 Stages of progression of the disease as described by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University. It gives a more finely tuned breakdown of each phase and is useful in separating what could simply be an isolated incident of forgetfulness from the heartbreaking signs of Alzheimer’s.

Stage 1: No Impairment
Alzheimer’s is not evidenced or detectable and no symptoms have appeared

Stage 2: Very Mild Decline
The senior may notice slight lapses in memory or might misplace things, but not to the extent that one would easily tell the difference between Alzheimer’s and age-related absent minded behaviors. The senior may also score well on memory tests and therefore doctors, friends or family may not recognize symptoms of the disease.

Stage 3: Mild Decline
During Stage 3, cognitive issues and memory lapses may become noticeable to others. Memory tests will show impairment and doctors will be able to recognize signs of Alzheimer’s.

Difficulties may present themselves in:

  • Remembering words while holding conversations
  • Remembering the names of people they have recently met
  • Planning and organizing
  • Repeating themselves while talking
  • Forgetting where they put things, even items of value to them

Stage 4: Moderate Decline
At this point, the disease becomes more apparent, and patients are now being recognized as having the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. They may:

  • Lose their ability to do simple math problems
  • Forget things that happened in their life
  • Lose their short term memory (perhaps they forget that a loved one visited earlier in the day)
  • Lose their ability to manage their bills, errands, medications or everyday lives

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline
This is when loved ones will have to help the patient manage their lives. Simple daily functions can become impossible and even distressing for the patient. The senior may experience:

  • Obvious and marked confusion
  • The inability to recall their age, address or other details about themselves
  • Having trouble dressing in an appropriate manner, for instance, wearing short sleeves with no jacket in extremely cold weather
    Conversely, they still can function to an extent, such as bathing themselves or handling their own personal care. They can recall details about their younger days and will recognize their family members.

Stage 6: Severe Decline
By Stage 6, the patient will need to be supervised constantly and must be under their physician’s care. The symptoms of this stage are:

  • Being confused and oblivious of their surroundings
  • Changes in personality traits
  • Behavior issues such as biting, being aggressive or slapping others
  • Being unable to bathe themselves or handle their personal needs
  • Becoming lost frequently or aimlessly wandering from place to place
  • Losing control of bodily function

Stage 7: Very Severe Decline
This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s, as sadly, it is a terminal condition. Patients in this stage are close to death. They display an inability to communicate and are unresponsive, and must have constant help in all aspects of their lives. They may not be able to swallow or eat and are thankfully not aware of their condition.

Family members who have to watch their loved one cope with this disease will need a strong support system and guidance from professionals. Counseling may be helpful in managing the stress and high emotional toll that Alzheimer’s takes on the people who surround and care for the patient. At some point, full-time caregivers may be required, or the patient might be moved into a facility which specializes in Alzheimer’s.


Studies of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation have revealed that high-frequency TMS treatments improve cognitive dysfunction and naming accuracy. Because patients with dementia often have difficulty in this area, TMS (a non-invasive tool that is approved by the FDA in treating Depression), is attracting more and more attention for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease in helping restore cognitive function. Contact TMS Neuro Solutions for more information on how Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is being used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.