The Stages of Alzheimer’s and How the Disease Progresses

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that destroys memory and other mental functions over time, eventually leading to the inability to carry out daily activities.

Progression of the disease can vary by the individual. The average life expectancy of a person diagnosed is eight to 10 years. However, depending on several factors, a person could live as long as twenty years or more after diagnosis.

As the disease gradually worsens, symptoms that are associated with the three main stages of Alzheimer’s will appear. It is important to note that these stages serve as a general guideline as symptoms may vary.  The three stages are:

Stage 1:  Mild, Early Stage – During this stage a person may function independently but may experience memory lapses and other difficulties in concentration such as problems coming up with correct names or words and staying organized.

Stage 2: Moderate, Middle Stage – Typically, this is the longest stage and can last many years. At this point symptoms become more noticeable, and the individual will require more care as they may not be able to successfully complete some routine activities on their own.  Symptoms may include moodiness or withdrawal, confusion about what day it is or location, difficulty controlling bladder or bowel movements and increased risk of wandering.

Stage 3: Severe, Late Stage –This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s and individuals will need an extensive amount of help and care.  At this stage, a person loses many physical abilities such as eating, sitting or walking.   Other symptoms that can occur include having difficulty communicating, significant personality changes, lack of awareness of surroundings and becoming more susceptible to life- threatening infections such as pneumonia.

Recognizing the symptoms of  Alzheimer’s is important; as early detection of the disease can help individuals to receive the maximum benefits from available treatments, maintain their independence longer and better prepare for their care in the future.

During Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and Flushing  Hospital Medical Center are raising awareness about the disease as it affects an estimated  5.7 million people  living in the United Sates.  Through education we hope to increase public knowledge of the disease, and its effects on individuals as well their caregivers.  To learn more about Alzheimer’s, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website at

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.