Understanding the Stages and Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease has a long, slow progression. Often, the patient will live with the disease for 8 to 10 years after they are diagnosed, but some individuals have lived as long as 25 years with the disease.

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, virtually every aspect of your loved one’s life will be affected—from their language, to memory, to personality, to movement. Because the brain controls all of these things, the disease will touch each aspect of who your loved one is. Depression, anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbances are common at each stage, and as the disease progresses, your loved one may experience delusions or hallucinations.

It may be helpful to know the general stages of Alzheimer’s disease so you can be better prepared for what will happen next. Keep in mind that progression from one stage to another is difficult to predict and will vary depending on the individual. Understanding the Stages and Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

This stage isn’t really part of Alzheimer’s disease, but it often progresses into Alzheimer’s disease. This stage is often just a part of getting older for many people. Those with MCI will have minor memory problems, and problem solving skills will diminish. However, daily routines are generally not affected.

Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

Generally, Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed at this stage. Those with Mild Alzheimer’s Disease will have trouble with memory loss, especially about recent events, and they will continue to have trouble with complex problem solving. They may also experience personality changes and difficulty with language.

Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

All of the mild symptoms will increase as your loved one moves to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. At this stage, your loved one may need help with daily activities, and their behavior may seem impulsive or reckless at times because of their decreased judgment.

Severe Alzheimer’s Disease

At this stage, your loved one will be unable to communicate and movement will be significantly impaired. They will require assistance with daily activities. They will have trouble controlling muscles and reflexes, and eventually they may not be able to control their bladder or bowels.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease or for caregiver resources, call The Palm Beach Neurological Center at 888-369-1010.

If you would be interested in a free memory screening, please contact us today.


Yang Y., Mufson, E. J., & Herrup, K (2003). Neuronal Cell Death Is Preceded by Cell Cycle Events at All Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Neuroscience. 23(7):2557-63.

Ramdane, S (2014). The Profile of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms Across Dementia Stages in Alzheimer’s Disease: An Observational Study. The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. 10(4): P524-25.

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