The 7 stages of Alzheimer’s revealed – from silent changes to forgetfulness and fading away

MISPLACING your house keys or calling a new colleague by the wrong name are common lapses in memory.

But as we get older, we are often more forgetful, and it’s easy to start wondering if this is a sign of something serious – like Alzheimer’s disease.

The seven stages of Alzheimer’s used by doctors to diagnose the condition

As we age, our brains naturally shrink, and our thought processes slow down.

However, in Alzheimer’s disease, changes that happen in the brain are different to the changes seen in normal ageing.

It causes a build-up of toxic proteins, which destroy memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. 

More than 600,000 people in the UK have Alzheimer’s disease, the number one cause of dementia, and it has no cure – although there are a few promising drugs in the pipeline.

While we wait for scientists to do their magic, having ways to catch the condition as early as possible gives people the best chance of managing the disease.

Earlier diagnosis can also give patients and their families more time to understand their diagnosis and plan for the future.

Doctors often use the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS), which marks out seven stages of the disease, to help diagnose the condition.

There are no hard-and-fast lines between stages, as Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently, but over time, you can expect changes like the ones listed below:

Stage 1: Before symptoms appear

Just like with many diseases, changes in the brain that are related to Alzheimer’s begin before symptoms appear.

Only a PET scan, a 3D imaging test that shows how the brain is working, can show whether the disease is developing.

Stage 2: Basic forgetfulness

By now, some very subtle symptoms might start appearing – although nothing that would interfere with one’s ability to live alone or work.

This could include forgetting words or misplacing objects, which could be dismissed as everyday carelessness.

Stage 3: Noticeable memory difficulties

It’s at this point that some more obvious changes in thinking ability will emerge.

Unlike the memory issues seen in stage three, these – more accurate symptoms – are likely to disrupt a person’s life.

Sufferers could have trouble with their short-term memory, such as finding it hard to remember something they only just read.

They might get lost in new surroundings – which can leave them feeling quite anxious and afraid.

Stage 4: More than memory loss

During this period, the memory and thinking issues you noticed at stage three will have worsened.

Sufferers might have trouble remembering details about themselves, ordering from a menu and using their phone.

They might also find tasks that involve multiple steps, like cleaning the house, very difficult.

Stage 5: Decreased independence

Until now, sufferers may have been able to live independently with no significant challenges.

But newly acquired memory issues mean they will struggle to live without any help.

They will likely have trouble remembering important information, such as where they are and what time it is.

On top of this, they may struggle with learning new things, and basic tasks like getting dressed might be too much for them.

Stage 6: Severe symptoms

Delusions can kick in right about this stage, which can cause major personality changes.

Sufferers might think their partner is an imposter, for example, or they might not recognise their reflection.

They might also begin to mistake people for someone else, for instance, think their neighbour is their wife.

Stage 7: Lack of physical control

Many basic abilities in a person with Alzheimer’s, such as eating, walking, talking and sitting up, fade during this period. 

In this stage, people with the disease need a lot of help from caregivers. 

How to reduce your risk of dementia

Experts agree that what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain. This means you can help reduce your risk of dementia by:

This means you can help reduce your risk of dementia by:

Eating a balanced diet (which includes five portions of fruit and veg per day)
Maintaining a healthy weight (a BMI score of between 18.5 and 24.9)
Exercising regularly (at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week)
Keeping alcohol within recommended limits
Stopping smoking
Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level (between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg)

Source: NHS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow by Email