Understanding the Three Stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia

what are the stages and signs of dementia

An increase in those with declining cognitive abilities – such as dementia – affects an estimated 230,000 people in Illinois, according to the state’s Alzheimer’s Association. That number is expected to increase by 13 percent by 2025. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that can move slowly and requires unique support for individuals in each of the three stages: early (mild), middle (moderate), and late (severe). Many of the steps can overlap and symptoms become identified as dementia, which is the mental decline that accompanies Alzheimer’s patients.

  1. Early-stage Alzheimer’s (mild) 

In this stage, a person may still live independently, be employed, and have close relationships with friends and family. Their symptoms may not be as noticeable to them, but those close to them may start to identify early signs such as:

  • Struggle finding the right word or remembering someone’s name.
  • Having difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings.
  • Forgetting conversations or something they just saw or read.
  • Losing or misplacing personal possessions, including money.
  • Experiencing increased trouble with organizing or following routine tasks.
  1. Middle-stage Alzheimer’s (moderate)

Researchers believe this to be the longest stage, one that can last for many years with exceedingly noticeable emotional and cognitive changes.

The person may:

  • Forget events or personal history.
  • ​Feel sensitive, moody, or withdrawn.
  • Be unable to recall information about themselves like their address or telephone number, or family members’ names.
  • Experience confusion about what day it is or which season they are in.
  • Require help choosing the proper clothing.
  • Have trouble controlling their bladder and bowels.
  • Experience changes in sleep patterns, such as excessive sleeping during the day.
  • Show an increased tendency to wander and become lost.
  • Demonstrate personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior.

At this stage, caregivers start to consider support options like adult day centers to help their loved ones thrive in a safe environment.

  1. Late-stage Alzheimer’s (severe)

Dementia symptoms become very severe in this stage, and communication barriers arise as individuals lose the ability to respond and converse, make safe decisions, and control their movements. Significant personality changes also take form, and around-the-clock care to help with personal tasks such as eating, toileting, and physical mobility become necessary.

At this stage, many individuals are moved to long-term care facilities and nursing homes as care expectations exceed what most family members can handle. Unfortunately, there are too many times when Alzheimer’s and dementia residents will be ignored, neglected, abused, or hurt. The Alzheimer’s Association reports there are close to 2 million cases of elder abuse incidences each year for dementia residents living in community settings such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

If a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia has sustained serious injuries resulting from abuse or neglect at a nursing home, your family may be entitled to compensation. Also, if you are an employee of a nursing home and witness to a dementia resident being mistreated, you are protected against any form of retaliation. You are encouraged to report what you know immediately.

Respected Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys

Levin & Perconti has become one of the most widely-known and respected nursing home abuse and neglect law firms in Illinois, achieving multiple million-dollar verdicts and settlements. Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Call us toll-free at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.

Also read: 6 Ways You Can Support Dementia Residents During COVID-19


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