Understanding Dementia
Understanding Dementia

Part 2: The Stages of Alzheimer's Disease: What Happens?

Dementia is a brain disease where brain cells progressively degenerate. Dementia causes deterioration in thinking ability and memory. It also affects behaviour, mood and emotions, and the ability to perform everyday activities.

The disease progression typically follows certain stages which will bring about changes in the person's and family's lives. Because the disease affects each individual differently, the symptoms, the order in which they appear and the duration of each stage vary from person to person.

In most cases, the disease progresses slowly, and the symptoms of each stage may overlap, often making the move from one stage to another quite subtle. The duration of the disease is usually seven to ten years but may be much longer in some people.

The stages of the disease are commonly referred to as “early”, “middle” and “late”.  “End of life” is described as when the person nears death and comfort measures become the focus.

The infographics below provide additional information to help you better understand the changes you might see at each stage, important strategies for care partners, and " heads-up” signals to watch for over time.

Download and print these handouts as easy references.

  • Dementia Progression Roadmap
  • Early Stage Infographic
  • Middle Stage Infographic
  • Late Stage Infographic
  • End of Life Infographic

More Learning Resources

What to Expect as the Person’s Dementia Progresses