Alzheimer’s disease usually starts silently, with brain changes that begin years before anyone notices a problem.
When symptoms start, they are usually mild at first. Forgetfulness is often the first sign. This isn’t everyday forgetfulness that everyone gets from time to time. It’s more than that. For instance, someone with mild Alzheimer's may get lost in familiar settings and ask the same questions repeatedly. If it happens a lot and causes problems in your daily life, that can be a sign.
Over time, the condition affects more and more of the brain. As that happens, Alzheimer’s shifts from mild to moderate to severe. This process usually takes several years. Doctors call it the “progression” of the disease.
Although there is no cure, it can help you to know what to expect so you can plan to meet your loved one’s needs in each stage.
There are no hard-and-fast lines between mild and moderate stages, or moderate and severe stages, but over time you can expect to see changes such as the following.
Signs of Moderate Alzheimer's
You may notice that someone in this stage of the disease has more trouble with:
Memory. He or she may forget details about their past.
Chores. It may be hard to do tasks that have several steps, such as:
- Cleaning the house
- Getting dressed
- Using the telephone
Communication. Your friend or relative might:
- Have trouble finding the right word
- Lose track of what they planned to say
- Struggle to understand what other people say to them
Behavior. People with moderate Alzheimer's may:
- Become frustrated or angry more easily than they used to
- See or hear things that aren't really there
- Seem paranoid about unreal threats
- Act impulsively
- Wander away from home and get lost
But they can still remember details about their lives and the people around them. And they can take care of some tasks on their own.
Even so, they will need help from a caregiver, such as a friend or family member, to keep them safe, calm, and clean. Although they can be somewhat independent, they may no longer be able to live on their own.
They are not able to drive at this point. So they will need someone to take them to doctor visits, to see friends or do things they enjoy, and do other errands with them.