Alzheimer's disease classification

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Syed Hassan A. Kazmi BSc, MD [2], Aravind Reddy Kothagadi M.B.B.S[3], Haleigh Williams, B.S.


Alzheimer's disease may be classified according to severity into mild, moderate and severe dementia. It may also be classified based on age of onset into early onset and late onset Alzheimer's disease. Another method of classification of Alzheimer's disease is based on the course of disease into pre-dementia, early dementia, moderate dementia and advanced dementia.


Classification based on severity

Alzheimer's disease may be classified based on the clinical dementia rating criteria into minimal, intermediate, mild, moderate and severe:[1][2][3][4][5]

Clinical Dementia Rating
Based on the severity of Impairment
Criteria Minimal Indeterminate Mild Moderate Severe
Memory No memory loss or slight forgetfulness Minimal forgetfulness; partial recollection of events; “benign” forgetfulness Moderate memory loss; more marked for recent events; defect interferes with everyday activities Severe memory loss; only highly learned material retained; new material rapidly lost Severe memory loss; only fragments remain
Orientation Fully oriented Fully oriented except for slight difficulty with time perception Moderate difficulty with time perception; oriented for place at examination; may be disoriented to place Severe difficulty with time relationships; usually disoriented to time, often to place Oriented to person only
Judgment and problem solving Able to handle daily life activities (including financial issues); judgment good in relation to past performance Mild impairment in solving problems, determining similarities and differences Moderate difficulty in solving problems, difficulty in distinguishing things; social judgment usually maintained Severely impaired in solving problems, determining similarities and differences; social judgment usually impaired Unable to make judgments or solve problems
Social functioning Functions independently and performs daily tasks such as shopping, and volunteer and social groups Slight impairment in performing social activities Unable to perform social activities, although may still be engaged in some; appears normal on casual observation No pretense of independent function outside of home; appears well enough to be taken to functions outside a family home No pretense of independent function outside of home; appears too ill to be taken to functions outside a family home
Home and hobbies Able to carry out daily life activities, hobbies, and intellectual interests well maintained Daily life tasks, hobbies, and intellect slightly impaired Mild but definite impairment of function in performing daily life tasks; more difficult chores abandoned; more complicated hobbies and interests abandoned Only simple chores preserved; interests very restricted and poorly maintained No significant function in home
Personal care Able to take care of self Fully functional Needs reminders Requires assistance in dressing, hygiene, keeping of personal effects Requires much help with personal care; frequent incontinence

Classification based on age of onset

Alzheimer's disease may be classified into early onset and late onset based on age of onset:[6][7][8][9][10]

Sub-class Genetics Prevalence
Late-onset familial (>60 years, AD2) 15%-25% of familial cases
Early-onset familial AD (<60 years, AD1, AD3, AD4) <2% of familial cases

Classification based on course of disease

Alzheimer's disease may be classified into the following stages based on course of disease:[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][19][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]

Stage of Alzheime's disease Major deficits
Early dementia
Moderate dementia
Advanced dementia
  • Language is reduced to simple phrases or even single words, eventually leading to complete loss of speech
  • Extreme apathy
  • Exhaustion
  • Completely dependent on caregivers for daily tasks
  • Decreased muscle mass, eventually becomes bedridden


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  15. Spaan PE, Raaijmakers JG, Jonker C (2003). "Alzheimer's disease versus normal ageing: a review of the efficiency of clinical and experimental memory measures". Journal of Clinical Experimental Neuropsychology. 25 (2): 216–233. PMID 12754679.
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