Health care providers describe Alzheimer’s as having three stages: mild, moderate and severe. Researchers have also identified a pre-clinical period. During pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease, brain changes might be evident on an MRI but symptoms of these changes aren’t evident.
Independent living is possible with mild Alzheimer’s symptoms. For example, symptoms might be limited to:
- Having trouble making plans or performing a work task
- Being unable to remember the names of new acquaintances
- Misplacing items and being unable to retrace one’s steps
The moderate stage of Alzheimer’s can last for several years or longer. During this time, changes in mood and personality are likely to arise. Alzheimer’s patients also tend to become restless in the middle stage. This could show up as insomnia, fidgeting and/or wandering. Becoming lost when wandering is a common danger to patients, so Alzheimer’s assisted living centers and nursing homes set up for memory care have especially secure perimeters. Eventually patients require 24-hour supervision. With severe Alzheimer’s a person needs health care and personal care support, and they need to be monitored for their own safety and the safety of others.