The first stage is considered early or mild Alzheimer's. On average, it lasts from two to four years. The earlier the symptoms are recognized, the earlier a doctor can tell if someone has Alzheimer's.
The symptoms of this stage include:
Change in the level of energy and spontaneity
Withdrawal from work and social activities and spending more time just sitting, watching TV, or sleeping
Loss of recent memories; this includes forgetting conversations and recent events
Increasing problems with language, both with expression and understanding
Mild problems with coordination; this might be seen in having trouble with writing or in using familiar objects.
Trouble completing familiar tasks, such as following a recipe or balancing a check book
Mood swings that involve episodes of depression or apathy
Possible trouble with driving
Having some or all of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has Alzheimer's. Other conditions can cause symptoms that mimic Alzheimer's disease. These conditions include:
Metabolic problems such as hypothyroidism
The moderate stage of Alzheimer's typically lasts from two to 10 years. In this stage, memory loss becomes worse and disrupts daily life.
The person with Alzheimer's may lose a sense of his or her own personal history. Or he or she may not recognize or remember family members and friends. The person may also forget where he or she leaves things and be unable to retrace his or her steps.
Other symptoms of moderate Alzheimer's may include:
Trouble coming up with correct words or phrases for familiar concepts and using inappropriate words when trying to communicate
Trouble with planning or solving problems
Becoming confused about time or place; a person with Alzheimer's may become lost in places he or she has often been to and should be familiar with. In addition, the person may not know how or why he or she got to that place.