To better understand the progression of the disease, it is often divided in three stages: early (or mild), mid (or moderate), and severe (or late).
At the early stage, certain symptoms start to appear cunningly, despite the fact that they remain mild, ranging from occasional forgetfulness to difficulty communicating, e.g., finding the right word or following a conversation. These symptoms only affect short-term memory. People with Alzheimer’s may remember an event that took place a year ago but not what they ate the night before. Afflicted individuals are normally aware of their condition, which can lead to anxiety or depression. It is important not to neglect these feelings and try to help and support the person as much as possible. Furthermore, it is preferable that family members do not keep the diagnosis hidden from the sufferer. Knowing about the condition will entitle the concerned individual to make important decisions about his future healthcare needs.
Mid stage is characterized by the progressive deterioration of physical and mental abilities. Memory lapses are far more significant at this stage. Afflicted people may no longer recognize family members and friends. Confusion will increase to the point of not knowing where they are or what time of day it is. Mood and behaviour may change, making way for sudden mood swings, hostility, hallucinations, sleep disorders, and inadequate behaviour. People with mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease require help to accomplish daily tasks such as getting dressed, taking a bath or shower, and going to the bathroom. At this stage, it is common to notice restlessness.
During the severe stage of the disease, long-term memory loss occurs. People with Alzheimer’s disease can no longer remember. They communicate through nonverbal language, eye contact, cries, and groans. They require 24-hour assistance for all physical aspects of everyday life (difficulty swallowing, incontinence, immobility). Alzheimer’s disease can put people at risks for other illnesses and infections. Often, sufferers die from another disease’s complication instead of Alzheimer’s.