What are the stages in the development of Alzheimer’s disease?

The course of Alzheimer’s disease — which symptoms appear and how quickly changes occur — varies from person to person. In general, however, the disease develops slowly and follows the same mild, moderate, and severe stages.

At first, the only noticeable symptom may be forgetfulness. People with mild Alzheimer’s might be unable to remember recent events, ask the same question repeatedly, and become lost in familiar places. A person may seem healthy but in reality is actually having more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. Such difficulties could be due to Alzheimer’s disease or another condition. A doctor should always be consulted to make a diagnosis.

As the disease progresses, memory becomes worse. People may even have difficulty in recognizing family or friends, and it can be difficult to learn new things. People in this moderate stage of Alzheimer’s may behave differently, too. For example, they might be restless, agitated, and angry, or they may wander.

As Alzheimer’s disease reaches a severe stage, people sometimes lose the ability to communicate. They may sleep more, lose weight, and have trouble swallowing. Often, they cannot control their bladder and bowel. Eventually, they will need total care.

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