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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer's Disease Stages

Learning that you have Alzheimer's disease changes your life, but not all at once. It progresses slowly over several years, in three general stages -- mild, then moderate, and, finally, severe. If you act early, you can have better quality of life in each stage and plan for the changes to come.

Mild Alzheimer's

The most common early symptom is trouble recalling something you just learned. In this early stage, you may also notice it's a little harder to remember other things, make decisions, and find your way around new places. Other people may not notice your symptoms at first.

You may find that you:

  • Forget where you put everyday things
  • Get lost
  • Have trouble with complex tasks, like paying bills or planning a party
  • Have trouble coming up with the right words sometimes
  • Feel less social or moody

lf you haven't already seen a doctor about symptoms like these, do it now. If it is Alzheimer’s, your doctor can prescribe medication to improve your memory and thinking.

Mild Alzheimer's can last for years. You may be able to live on your own throughout, but you'll need a good support system. Lean on your family and friends or get advice from your doctor or local Alzheimer's group on how to get help with shopping, meals, and getting out and about. This is also a good time for you to decide how you want to be cared for as the disease progresses.

To make daily life easier, try these tips:

  • Always carry a notebook, where you can write down important information such as names, phone numbers, appointments, and your address.
  • Make "to do" lists, leave yourself reminder notes, and label cupboards with words or pictures to remind you what's inside.
  • Have someone call to remind you of things like meal and medication times and to go with you when you go out.
  • Join a support group. You can talk about how Alzheimer's affects your life and learn how other people are dealing with it.
  • Exercise, limit alcohol, and stay involved in activities you enjoy. 
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