Author: Anne Bogardus, Founder and former caregiver

Any form of dementia is challenging for caregivers, largely because the symptoms can be so random and, at times, seem to come and go. When I was struggling to understand my dad’s behavior, I spent time on the Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Forum and often saw people referring to the stage of Alzheimer’s disease their parent or loved one was in. As I learned more about these stages, it became easier to understand how my dad’s brain was deteriorating. I also learned that there is no hard and fast demarcation line between one stage and another. Even when my dad was in the later stages in some ways, he never experienced some of the losses that were part of earlier stages. It was quite confusing at times.

Even so, understanding the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that can occur at different stages helps in managing your own expectations of what your parent is able to do.

Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick from Seniors for Living does a good job of explaining the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s Disease in this article from Reader’s Digest. Even though my dad didn’t have Alzheimer’s, but a different form of dementia, these stages were helpful in understanding what was happening to him and why he sometimes behaved as he did.