Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) #
- MCI is a condition that is considered to be a transitional stage between normal aging and dementia.
- People with MCI may experience memory problems and other cognitive difficulties that are noticeable but do not significantly interfere with their daily activities.
- MCI does not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of dementia, as individuals can still function independently.
- However, individuals with MCI are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
- Important: MCI does not necessarily transition into Alzheimer’s Disease. A large proportion of those diagnosed with MCI have a non-degenerative reason for the impairment and go on to improve/recover.
Mild Alzheimer’s disease #
- Mild Alzheimer’s disease is the early stage of the disease and typically lasts for several years.
- During this stage, individuals may still be able to function independently and perform their daily activities, such as dressing and bathing, but may start experiencing memory lapses more frequently.
- Other symptoms may include difficulty finding words, getting lost in familiar places, and changes in mood or personality.
- While memory impairment is evident, it is usually the short-term memory that is affected the most.
Moderate Alzheimer’s disease #
- Moderate Alzheimer’s disease is the middle stage and can last for several years.
- Individuals in this stage will experience more pronounced memory loss and cognitive decline, making it increasingly difficult for them to perform routine tasks independently.
- They may struggle with language, have difficulty recognizing family and friends, and exhibit behavioural changes like agitation or wandering.
- Assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating, and personal hygiene, may be required.
Severe Alzheimer’s disease #
- Severe Alzheimer’s disease is the final stage of the disease and can last for a few years or more.
- Individuals in this stage will have severe memory loss and cognitive impairment. They will be completely dependent on others for care.
- They may lose the ability to communicate, have difficulty swallowing, and experience significant physical and functional decline.
- In the later stages, individuals may become bedridden and require round-the-clock care.
Alzheimer’s disease variants and stage differences #
The above are broad stages of Alzheimer’s disease progression. Keep in mind that progression is not exactly the same for every person and that an individual may exhibit aspects of multiple stages at the same time. It’s also important to note that there are different variants of Alzheimer’s disease. The most common is the amnestic (memory) variant and so most commentaries focus more on this. However, the language and posterior variants may need to be considered and their staging may differ somewhat from the below (especially where memory is concerned).