Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease generally categorized into three stages by level of impairment —mild, moderate, and severe.

Outlined below are some major signs and symptoms of the first two stages.

Mild Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

In this stage, the difficulties caused by the disease will become noticeable to those around the patient. Some common difficulties include:

  • The inability to remember names
  • A subdued mood or depression
  • Forgetting events shortly after they happen
  • Difficulty learning new things and making new memories
  • Trouble finding words
  • May lose their way going to familiar places
  • Asking repetitive questions
  • Withdrawal, loss of interest, irritability
  • May get uncharacteristically angry when frustrated or tired
  • Difficulty making choices and decisions
  • Losing or misplacing things
  • May constantly check, search, or hoard things of no value

Moderate Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

In this stage, memory worsens and cognitive function declines noticeably. Some assistance with day-to-day activities becomes essential. Common difficulties include:

  • Less concern for appearance and personal hygiene
  • Poor judgment that creates safety issues when left alone
  • Restless, repetitive movements in late afternoon or evening, such as pacing, trying doorknobs, fingering draperies
  • May accuse, threaten, curse, fidget, or behave inappropriately, such as kicking, hitting, biting, screaming, or grabbing
  • May see, hear, smell, or taste things that are not there
  • May be incontinent either all or some of the time

Though symptoms and progression vary greatly by patient, the mild stage of Alzheimer's disease generally lasts about two years. The moderate stage can last about four years.

From The Comfort of Home for Alzheimer's Disease: A Guide for Caregivers,
CareTrust Publications © 2008.


In this clip from The Caregivers Documentary, Maureen discusses feeling obligated to take care of her mom after her mom's Alzheimer's diagnosis.


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