According to Dr. Ira Shoulson, the progress of HD can be divided into five stages that are flexible after diagnosis;
- Early Stage – the person is diagnosed as having HD and can function fully both at home and work.
- Early Intermediate Stage – the person remains employable but at a lower capacity. They are still able to manage their daily affairs despite some difficulties.
- Late Intermediate Stage – the person can no longer work and/or manage household responsibilities. They need considerable help or supervision to handle daily financial affairs. Other daily activities may be slightly difficult but usually only require minor help.
- Early Advanced Stage – the person is no longer independent in daily activities but is still able to live at home supported by their family or professionals.
- Advanced Stage – the person with HD requires complete support in daily activities and professional nursing care is usually needed.
People with HD usually die about 15 to 20 years after their symptoms first appear. The cause of death is not the disease itself but complications such as pneumonia, heart failure or infection developing from the body’s weakened condition.