Understanding the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease affecting the brain and impairing cognitive functions such as thinking, memory, judgment and language and, in the later stages, mobility. The cause of Alzheimer’s is still unclear but there are studies suggesting linking the cause with a possible deficiency in vitamins, whilst also trauma or brain injury have been shown to potentially play a role.

Alzheimer’s disease can have far and wide-ranging implications and therefore it is important to understand how the disease progresses. This way you can understand the progression of the disease at certain stages and be in a better position to seek out appropriate care thereby managing the condition effectively. Additionally, this has been proven to be effective in prolonging the onset of the disease at more serious stages.

Amongst doctors, there is a commonly agreed upon consensus on the stages of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The progression of Alzheimer’s can be identified through three key stages, early, mid, and late. The way each person is affected is different and so the rate the disease progresses is different in each person. In this article, we will guide you through the process so you can notice the stages more clearly.

Alzheimer’s Disease: First Stage (pre-clinical)

Long before the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, there is often what is recognised as the ‘preclinical’ stage. This process can begin as early as 10-15 years before symptoms begin. It is a good idea to make regular trips to the doctor so that if there are any early indicators they can be spotted. Keeping a healthy lifestyle has been shown to prolong the onset.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Early stage (symptoms)

In the early stage, the first typical symptoms a person might show can often be confused with general day-to-day activities and everyday conversation, alongside general age-related forgetfulness. The person may have trouble remembering basic common words or names or the location of household objects. Just simple abilities to plan effectively for the future can become impaired.

It is important to keep an eye out for such symptoms by friends and family. Some of the first notable changes in a person’s behaviour might be that they are struggling to remember general or sometimes key details.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Mid Stage

In the mid-stage development of Alzheimer’s, a person might start to show the first signs of struggling to function and live independently. The symptoms during this stage can become more noticeable and often this is coupled with mental frustration at an inability to complete the tasks set out and normally accepted as day-to-day necessities.

Other common symptoms can include emotional instability, anxiety and requiring increased physical assistance and general personality/behavioural changes as well as trouble controlling the bladder/bowels.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Late Stage

Late-stage dementia includes increased symptoms of all the other stages before this and an increase in anxiety levels on a day-to-day basis. Responding to a basic conversation can become extremely difficult and bodily movements also become impaired. Personality and behavioural changes increase significantly to the point when assisted care/living becomes a necessary accompaniment. 

Rationality can often become impaired and everyday tasks involving problem-solving might be severely decreased. Basic actions such as speaking can start to become more complicated as common words are forgotten. A tendency to repeat questions is common alongside memory failure were struggling to recall the name of loved ones can become commonplace.


Although there is no cure, as yet, for Alzheimer’s, noticing the symptoms can allow appropriate organised care to best assist the sufferer in making the transition between stages and timely interventions are crucial to avoid a sudden deterioration in health. Reducing the sufferer’s anxiety around the condition is also important as an acceptance of the disease is the most effective way of handling it.

Sociability has been proven to be effective in prolonging a sufferer’s life and therefore care homes with scheduled activities and round-the-clock, care can make a huge difference. As with anyone with the onset of age-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, companionship and the knowledge that there is help around them can alleviate depression and anxiety.

This in itself can increase the longevity of the sufferer. On average a person with Alzheimer’s will live up to 8 years. However, with good health monitoring and maintaining a healthy lifestyle – a person with Alzheimer’s can live a long and healthy life of up to 20 years.

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