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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Alzheimer's Biomarkers: Overview of existing and future biomarkers. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Signs, Symptoms, and Stages

AD typically begins slowly with early involvement of parts of the brain that control thoughts, memory, and language. It typically begins after the age of 60. Early signs include the inability to remember things that recently happened or the names of people. A related early problem may be mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which causes memory problems more prevalent than other people of the same age. Many, but not all, people with MCI will eventually develop AD. Over time, the symptoms become worse and eventually individuals with AD may have trouble performing simplest tasks such as speaking, reading or writing.
Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease:
AD usually progresses slowly in three general stages: (1) mild stage, (2) moderate stage, and (3) severe stage. Since Alzheimer's affects people in different ways, the timing and severity of symptoms often varies and is different as each person progresses through the various stages of AD. Therefore, it may be difficult to place a person with AD into a specific stage since stages may overlap.
Mild Stage
This is considered an early stage in which a person may function independently. The individual may still drive, work and be a part of daily activities. Typically, the individual may feel they are having memory lapses and forgetting familiar words or the location of certain everyday objects. Friends and family may also notice difficulties with memory and concentration.
Moderate Stage
This is often referred to as the “middle stage” of AD. This is typically the longest stage and can last for many years. During this stage, the disease symptoms are more pronounced with the individual having a much greater difficulty performing tasks such as bill paying or driving, but they may still remember details about their life. The person may confuse words and act frustrated or get angry or act in other unexpected ways. Performing routine skills may be difficult. During this stage the person may or may not require outside care.
Severe Stage
This is considered the final stage of AD whereby the dementia symptoms are severe. Individuals usually lose the ability to respond to their environment and to even carry on a conversation. Eventually the person may lose control over movement. They may be able to say certain words or phrases, but communicating becomes very difficult. During this stage, memory and cognitive skills become worse with significant personality changes. The individual may need extensive help with daily activities. Usually at this stage, the person may need round-the-clock assistance with daily activities.