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The Stages Of Alzheimer's: What To Expect

A photo of a lady reading outside and a text box saying: "5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. That number is projected to increase to 14 million by 2050."

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative, progressive brain condition characterized by declines in cognitive functioning such as memory, critical thinking skills, and the ability to perform tasks. Because memory loss is a normal effect of aging, it’s often easy to mistake early signs of Alzheimer’s for forgetfulness. 

There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease distinguished between the normal aging process and the signs of Alzheimer’s. The progression of the disease is measured using the FAST scale, or Functional Staging Assessment scale.

What is the FAST scale?

The FAST scale measures the decline of an Alzheimer’s patient’s cognitive functioning. It was developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg, director of the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Research Program at New York University Langone Health.

Each stage is distinct, but because of the steady decline in the cognitive functioning of the brain, there can be some overlap between the stages. Because of this, it’s helpful to view the FAST scale as a spectrum.

What are the stages of Alzheimer's?

As measured by the FAST scale, there are seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Each stage is characterized as follows:

  1. Stage 1: Normal Adult. A person shows no obvious memory impairment and clinical tests show no measurable deficit.
  2. Stage 2: Normal Older Adult. A person shows the usual mild cognitive decline of old age and has a personal awareness of this change. They might occasionally forget names or where they placed objects like car keys.
  3. Stage 3: Early Alzheimer’s Disease. A person may have difficulty concentrating on tasks. They might falter during conversations or have difficulty retaining information that was just heard or read. They might frequently misplace objects, forget names, or forget words.
  4. Stage 4: Mild Alzheimer’s Disease. At this stage, a person’s Alzheimer’s disease may become more noticeable. Loved ones may note them losing interest in work and social situations, forgetting people they’ve recently met, or being disorganized in a way uncharacteristic to them. They also have a decreased ability to perform common tasks like managing finances or paying bills.
  5. Stage 5: Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. A person at this stage won’t be able to independently function and may need home caregivers. Their forgetfulness increases and they’ll become confused about the time, place, date, day of the week, and season. They might withdraw from social situations, forget personal history, and might be unable to make proper clothing choices.
  6. Stage 6: Moderately Severe Alzheimer’s Disease. A person will exhibit major gaps in memory and experience significant cognitive decline. They might experience personality changes and could be unable to distinguish familiar people.
  7. Stage 7: Severe Alzheimer’s Disease. A person will have lost their ability to verbally communicate and will experience a severe physical decline. They’ll experience progressive loss of basic physical ability including swallowing, walking, and sitting. They might have difficulty sleeping because of disruptions to their circadian rhythm.

Where can I find experienced and professional home caregivers?

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you’re not alone. Approximately 5.7 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to increase to 14 million by 2050.

The good news is that the Fedelta Home Care provides professional home caregivers so you can worry less about finding the right home care agency and focus on staying comfortable. For more information about home care assistance and the geriatric care we provide, contact Fedelta Home Care today.

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