What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behaviour.
Who developed the Seven Stages?
The seven Clinical Stages of Alzheimer’s disease, also known as the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS), was developed by Dr Barry Reisberg. Dr Reisberg is a clinical director of the New York University of Medicine’s Aging and Dementia Research Center.
Who uses the guidelines?
Professionals and caregivers use these guidelines worldwide to identify what stage of the disease a person is in. Stages 1-3 are the pre-dementia stages; stages 4-7 are the dementia stages. Stage 5 is the point where a person can no longer live without assistance. Everyone experiences dementia differently and responds to the onset and progress of the disease in their unique way. This can make it challenging to identify which specific stage someone is experiencing, and symptoms may overlap. However, the stages are a helpful tool, providing an overall idea of how abilities may change once symptoms appear and should only be used as a general guide.
What are the Seven Stages?
No Dementia: In stage 1, there are no visible signs or evidence of impaired memory or associated behavioural and mood changes.
Memory loss: The person may experience mild cognitive decline. Many people report that they struggle to remember names and have trouble recalling where they have recently placed things.
Mild Cognitive Impairment: Those who know the person well may begin to notice that the person has memory issues. These may include:
- Problems making plans, remembering when appointments are etc.
- Struggling to remember the right words or names
- Misplacing objects
Moderate cognitive decline: The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is determined with considerable accuracy in this stage. At this stage, daily activities become more difficult for the person, and they may need support to continue living independently. Activities they may need help with:
- They may struggle to remember their personal history
- Have difficulty shopping and performing complex tasks such as paying bills
- They may withdraw from society because they are struggling with mentally challenging situations
Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline: At this stage of the disease’s progress, the individual can no longer manage independently and will require some support with everyday activities. They may also exhibit behavioural problems such as anger and suspiciousness. Daily activities they may need help with:
- Recalling basic personal information; addresses, and phone numbers
- Choosing proper clothing for the current weather or season
- Preparing and cooking adequate meals
Severe Cognitive Decline: At this stage, the individual requires support to perform basic daily life activities. They may:
- Trouble remembering the recent past
- Not be able to recognise their surroundings
- Tend to wander or become lost
- Trouble remembering personal information
- Not be able to match names to a familiar face
- Require help with personal care
- Have issues with bladder and bowel control
Very Severe Cognitive Decline: At this stage, the person will require continuous assistance with basic activities of daily life. They may not know where they are, cannot carry on a conversation or recognise loved ones. In some cases, control of movement and motor functions disappear.