Alzheimer's Symptoms

Now providing Residential Assisted Living Supportive Living Program for individuals with a Brain Injury. Click the button below to learn more.

Click Here to Learn More

Stages and Symptoms

Stages of Symptom Progression in Alzheimer's Disease

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease generally progress in a recognizable pattern. These stages provide a framework for understanding the disease. It is important to remember they are not uniform in every person, and the stages overlap

First Stage: 2-4 years leading up to and including diagnosis: (Symptoms)

  • Recent Memory Loss
  • Progressive forgetfulness; difficulty with routine chores
  • Confusion about directions, decisions and money management
  • Loss of spontaneity and initiative
  • Repetitive actions and statements
  • Mood/personality and judgment changes
  • Disorientation of time and space (Examples)
  • Forgets if bills are paid
  • Loses things and/or forgets they are lost
  • Arrives at wrong time or place
  • Constantly checks calendar
  • Forgets frequently called phone numbers

Second Stage: 2-10 years after diagnosis (longest stage):

  • Increasing memory loss, confusion and shorter attention span
  • Difficulty recognizing close friends and/or family
  • Wandering
  • Restlessness, especially in late afternoon and evening (Sundowning)
  • Occasional muscle twitching or jerking
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts or logical thinking
  • May see or hear things that are not there (Hallucinations).Examples:
  • Sleeps often - awakens frequently at night and may get up and wander
  • Perceptual - motor problems - difficulty getting into a chair, setting the table
  • Can't read signs, write name, add or subtract
  • Suspicious - may accuse spouse of hiding things or infidelity (Paranoia)
  • Loss of impulse control - may undress at inappropriate times or places
  • Huge appetite for junk food - forgets when last meal was eaten; may lose interest in eating

Third Stage: 1-3 years (Symptoms)

  • Unable to recognize family members or self in mirror
  • Loss of weight even with proper diet; eventually becomes emaciated
  • Capacity for self-care diminished
  • Oral communication disappears, eventually becomes mute
  • Tries to put everything in mouth; compulsion for touching
  • Bowel and bladder incontinence
  • May experience difficulty with swallowing, respiratory problems skin infections or seizures (Examples)
  • Looks in mirror and talks to own image
  • Needs total care with bathing, dressing, eating and toileting
  • May groan, scream or make grunting noises
  • Sleeps more, becomes comatose; eventually dies

Source: Adapted by the Alzheimer's Association - Detroit Area Chapter, Credit to Lisa P. Gwyther, ACSW

Our Care Model Setting The Standard View Picture Gallery