Alzheimer's stages

Doctors generally describe Alzheimer's disease in three stages – mild, moderate and severe.

You might have heard these stages referred to as early, mid and late stage. The Alzheimer's Association estimates 5.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's.

While there is no clear indication of when someone moves from stage to stage of Alzheimer's disease, there are some general guidelines doctors use. These help caregivers understand what they may expect as the disease worsens.

  • During the mild (or early) stage of Alzheimer's, people may begin having trouble with memory and thinking
  • During the moderate (or mid) stage of Alzheimer's, people may become more confused and forgetful and begin to need help with routine daily activities and self-care
  • During the severe (or late) stage of Alzheimer's, people may lose the ability to speak coherently and experience a decline in physical abilities

The doctor may assess which stage your loved one is in.

Through research, more is being learned about how Alzheimer's affects the brain. While doctors and scientists do not yet know how to prevent or cure the disease, medications are available that may help treat the symptoms.


ARICEPT® (donepezil HCl) is a prescription medicine to treat mild, moderate, and severe Alzheimer's disease.


Before starting on ARICEPT 23 mg/day, patients should be on ARICEPT 10 mg/day for at least 3 months. The starting dose of ARICEPT is 5 mg/day and can be increased to 10 mg/day after 4‑6 weeks. Please take ARICEPT as prescribed by the doctor.


  • ARICEPT (donepezil HCl) is not for everyone, including people who are allergic to any ingredients in ARICEPT or to medicines that contain piperidines.

  • Tell the doctor that the patient takes ARICEPT before they have any procedure that may require anesthesia, including dental and medical procedures or surgery.

  • ARICEPT may cause slow heartbeat and fainting. This happens more often in people with heart problems. Call the doctor right away if the patient faints while taking ARICEPT. People may also have seizures while taking ARICEPT. They may also have difficulty passing urine. Lung problems, including asthma, may worsen with the use of ARICEPT.

  • In a study, more side effects were seen with ARICEPT 23 mg than with ARICEPT 10 mg. Many more people taking ARICEPT 23 mg experienced nausea and vomiting than those taking ARICEPT 10 mg. These side effects may get better after the patient takes ARICEPT for a while.

  • People at risk for stomach ulcers or who take certain other medicines, such as aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), should tell their doctor because serious stomach problems, such as bleeding, may get worse.

  • Other side effects that were seen more often with ARICEPT 23 mg were stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and weight loss. People of lower weight (less than 121 lbs) may have increased nausea, vomiting, and weight loss when taking ARICEPT 23 mg.

  • Other side effects of ARICEPT may include diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, vomiting, or muscle cramps. Some people may feel tired or may have loss of appetite.

  • Tell the doctor if your loved one takes nonprescription or prescription medicines, including those used to treat Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease; anticholinergic medicines, such as allergy or cold medicine; medicines to treat bladder or bowel spasms; or certain asthma medicines.