Alzheimer’s stage 7 is the last, and most severe, stage of Alzheimer’s disease. People with this stage of Alzheimer’s may require a full-time caregiver and assistance for everyday tasks.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a type of dementia that refers to a group of symptoms that impact a person’s memory, thinking skills, and ability to respond to the world around them. These symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily life and activities. Although there is currently no cure, some treatments may help manage symptoms.

AD is a progressive condition, meaning that symptoms worsen over time. AD progresses through seven clinical stages of symptoms, with stage 7 being the final, and most severe, stage.

Read on to learn more about Alzheimer’s stage 7, also known as severe Alzheimer’s.

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a general term for a group of adult-onset neurodegenerative conditions that affect a person’s thinking skills and memory. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), AD affects 6.7 million people in the United States. Most of these people are over 65 years old.

Stage 7 Alzheimer’s, or late stage Alzheimer’s, refers to the last clinical stage of AD, as defined using the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS). People who have stage 7 AD need supervision or complete assistance for all of their daily activities.

Symptoms of stage 7 AD may include:

  • severe difficulty communicating, although some communication with words or phrases may be possible
  • an inability to respond to their environment
  • having muscle stiffness, muscle atrophy and flaccid muscles, or a combination of both
  • being unable to control body movements, such as
    • sitting without support
    • holding up their head
  • needing assistance for activities, such as eating or personal care
  • not recognizing familiar places or people

People with stage 7 AD may be near the end of their life.

Doctors also use another classification for the stages of AD. Under this classification, people with AD may have mild, moderate, or severe AD. People with severe AD, or stage 7 AD, are in the last stage of the disease.

In the other six stages of AD, people have progressively worse symptoms. Using the GDS, clinicians may categorize people as follows:

  • Stage 1 (pre-clinical AD): People may appear outwardly unaffected. AD starts to cause changes to the brain that are typically not detectable yet.
  • Stage 2 (early AD): People may have mild memory loss. Their family or friends may notice some changes. Medical professionals cannot detect any symptoms of dementia or AD.
  • Stage 3 (early AD): People may have mild difficulties with their memory and thinking, such as getting lost or finding correct wording. It does not yet affect their daily life. Doctors may be able to detect memory or concentration problems during a medical interview.
  • Stage 4 (early AD): People may have difficulty in their daily lives or with complex tasks. They may have a poor short-term memory or forget some of their personal details. Doctors may be able to diagnose AD at this stage.
  • Stage 5 (middle AD): People may need help with their daily lives and activities. They cannot recall many personal details and may not know the current time or their location. They can recall some significant personal information.
  • Stage 6 (middle AD): People need supervision and care. They may have changes to their personalities. They have severe memory loss and thinking problems.

To know which stage of AD a person is in, people should seek professional medical advice. Doctors use several methods to diagnose if a person has AD. Other conditions, such as strokes or vitamin deficiencies, may also cause some symptoms similar to AD.

Scientists have documented common patterns of symptom progression that people with AD have. Doctors then use these patterns to assess which stage of AD a person is in. Determining which stage of AD a person has helps families and healthcare professionals make healthcare decisions.

The first symptoms of AD vary from person to person. AD symptoms also progress at different rates for different people.

Not every person with AD will have every possible symptom. People may also have symptoms at different times from other people with AD.

Typically, AD tends to develop slowly and gradually worsens over several years. However, there is no definitive way to tell how quickly a person’s condition will progress. On average, a person with AD lives for 4–8 years after diagnosis. However, depending on a number of other factors, an individual can live as long as 20 years after diagnosis.

At present, there is no cure for AD. Scientists are still developing and testing several possible AD treatments.

Doctors may prescribe people medications that can help manage or temporarily reduce their AD symptoms. These medications can help improve or stabilize a person’s memory, thinking skills, and behavioral changes for some time. They include:

  • acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors
  • memantine
  • antipsychotic medicines, such as risperidone or haloperidol
  • antidepressants

Read on to learn more about medications that may help treat AD.

Therapies and activities may also help people with AD improve their memory and ability to complete everyday tasks. They can include:

  • Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST): This involves group activities and exercises to help improve memory and problem-solving skills.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation: Medical professionals and relatives help an individual with AD learn how to complete everyday tasks.
  • Reminiscence therapy: This involves talking about things and events from a person’s past to help improve their mood and well-being.

However, AD is a complex condition. No single treatment will work for every person with AD.

Many people care for a family member with AD at home. Although caregiving can have positive aspects for both the caregiver and the person they care for, it may also be a difficult or overwhelming task. As a person’s AD progresses, they may also need professional care.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers resources, information, and tips for caregivers of people with AD.

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that worsens over time and progresses through several stages. The last stage is known as Alzheimer’s stage 7. Some health experts may also refer to it as late Alzheimer’s or severe Alzheimer’s.

People with stage 7 AD will require supervision and assistance for everyday activities. They may be unable to respond or communicate. They may also be near the end of their life. Although scientists have not yet found a cure for AD, doctors may be able to prescribe medication or therapy to help with AD symptoms.