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Global Deterioration Scale

Some health-care professionals use the Global Deterioration Scale, also called the Reisberg Scale, to measure the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This scale divides Alzheimer’s disease into seven stages of ability.

Stage 1: No cognitive decline
  • Experiences no problems in daily living.
Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline
  • Forgets names and locations of objects.
  • May have trouble finding words.
Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline
  • Has difficulty travelling to new locations.
  • Has difficulty handling problems at work.
Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline
  • Has difficulty with complex tasks (finances, shopping, planning dinner for guests).
Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline
  • Needs help to choose clothing.
  • Needs prompting to bathe.
Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline
  • Loss of awareness of recent events and experiences.
  • Requires assistance bathing; may have a fear of bathing.
  • Has decreased ability to use the toilet or is incontinent.
Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline
  • Vocabulary becomes limited, eventually declining to single words.
  • Loses ability to walk and sit.
  • Requires help with eating.

Reisberg, B., Ferris, S. H., de Leon, M. J., and Crook, T. (1982). Modified from Global Deterioration Scale. American Journal of Psychiatry, 139:1136–1139.