The Various Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

This chart is a summary of Lynn Wagner's article  describing  Dr. Barry Reisberg's Theory of Retrogenesis and his comparisons of the
stages of Alzheimer's Disease  to childhood development.  Retro-genesis provides new insights into the Care needs of Alzheimer's Patients.   Recognition of developmental ages can help providers offer appropriate activities.  (Remember- They are becoming progressively lost and confused individuals.)

Video on article written by Lynn Wagner



Diversion/ Distraction Activities

  Stage 1
  • Normal Adult   
  Stage 2
  • Mild Memory loss such as forgetting were one put their put keys, but seems normal for an older adult.
  Stage 3

  Can last up to 7years  

  •   Difficulty holding a demanding job


Can function with understanding -TV, music, games (things that they have always enjoyed)
  Stage 4

Can last about 2years

  • Difficulty handling finances  
  • Difficulty Planning complex activities such as meal planning for guests 

8-12 yrs old



Simple games- Family Pictures and videos, balloons- TV, music


Stage 5

  • Can remain living in the community with support of friends to make sure they are safe and eating

  • Delusions are not like those of schizophrenic, but more like the fantasies of a child

  • Fear of being left alone (typical of a 5 year old)

  • Can no longer dress appropriately


5-7 yrs old

Games and sensory stimulation (site, sound, touch)  Age appropriate toys-Pictures- Balloons Videos
  Stage 6

Lasts about 2 1/2 years

  • Loses ability to dress and bathe themselves

  • Judgment severely impaired and dramatic changes in personality, increased anxiety and violent out burst can happen

  • Inability to control urine and bowel- final stages of this stage


2-4 yrs old

Things appealing to preschool age- videos- cartoons- music


  Stage 7

Last 7+ years

  • Vocabulary is reduced to a few words and ultimately lost.  Along with the ability to walk, sit up, smile, and hold head up

  • Care needs become extraordinarily important in stage seven

  • Things like colorful tennis balls can help with care

  • Just as a child, who is not raised properly, will be or act behaviorally disturbed; an   AD Patient, who doesn't have a secure, loving family environment is going to act disturbed

  • Despite the fears people often have about infantilizing people with Alzheimer disease, these individuals enjoy many of the same activities as children of various ages

  • There are many similarities between the care needs of an infant and those of a person in stage 7 Alzheimer disease

  • Every mother knows you have to play with an infant, speak to an infant, move an infant.  People with Alzheimer disease need those same things: love, to be touched and kissed the same as infants

  • Although harder to pick up an adult than an infant, it is necessary:  For, without repositioning that occurs when they are continually picked up and moved and played with, the result is contracted limbs.  Persons who are kept moving, can forestall contractures for many years

  • Taking on the care of a big infant is an enormous responsibility.  AT the same time, we owe them life as opposed to suffering. They need not suffer if we understand their condition

15 months back to birth


Sensory Stimulation

Eyes- mobiles- Balloons, dangling ribbons, comfort tapes

 Ears- soft music

Touch -puffy album or colorful engaging toy with different textures and interesting clicks or soothing sounds, tactile, infant toys


The chart is a summary of an article written by Lynn Wagner " A Scientific Profile For Dementia care".  A Scientific profile for Dementia Care
 24 Provider November 2000. The activity suggestions were provided by Joan Talley.

Chris Talley      Introduction    Sensory stimulation      Snoezelen  Behavior