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, though, the disease develops slowly and follows the same mild, moderate, and severe stages.

At first, the only symptom may be forgetfulness. People with mild Alzheimer’s may be unable to remember recent events, ask the same question over and over, and become lost in familiar places. A person may seem healthy but 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 be consulted to make a diagnosis.

As the disease goes on, memory gets worse. People may have problems recognizing family and friends. It can be hard to learn new things. People in this moderate stage of Alzheimer’s may behave differently, too. For example, they might be restless, agitated, or angry, or they may wander.

As Alzheimer’s disease becomes more severe, people 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 need total care.

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