Alzheimer’s disease stages

Alzheimer's can be split into three stages, each with its own symptoms. However, symptoms experienced and the timing of onset do vary.

Early stage

Loss of recent memory is a common early sign, so someone with Alzheimer's may:

  • Forget about recent conversations or events;
  • Repeat themselves;
  • Become slower at grasping new ideas;
  • Lose the thread of conversation;
  • Sometimes become confused;
  • Show poor judgement, or find it harder to make decisions;
  • Lose interest in other people or activities;
  • Become unwilling to try out new things or adapt to change.

Middle stage

As Alzheimer's progresses, changes become more obvious and the person needs more support to manage day-to-day. Symptoms can include:

  • Repeating the same question or phrase over and over;
  • Failing to recognise people or confuse them with others;
  • Becoming very easily upset, angry or aggressive;
  • Needing regular reminders or help to eat, wash, dress and use the toilet;
  • Becoming confused about where they are, or walking off and becoming lost;
  • Becoming muddled about time and mixing up night and day;
  • Behaving in ways that may seem unusual;
  • Experiencing difficulty with perception, and in some cases having hallucinations.

Late stage

At this stage, the person with Alzheimer's will need even more help and will gradually become totally dependent on others for nursing care.

Symptoms include:

  • Gradual loss of speech, though they may repeat a few words or cry out from time to time;
  • Frailty, eventually becoming confined to bed or a wheelchair;
  • Considerable weight loss - although some people eat too much and put on weight;
  • Incontinence;
  • Restlessness, sometimes appearing to be searching for someone or something;
  • Distressed or aggressive, although this is not deliberate.

Although the person may seem to have little understanding of speech, and may not recognise people, they may still respond to affection and being talked to in a calm soothing voice.