Understanding the stages of dementia can be difficult. If you are going through the symptoms personally, or know someone who is, it can be hard to see all the signs. Here are some things you can come to expect.
According to The Stages of Dementia: How Dementia Progresses (healthline.com), there are many different stages and different types of dementia to look out for. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe the diseases that cause memory loss and the decline of other mental functions.
There are some common stages that can progress as the disease takes form, and each person progresses at different rates. For example, a patient may go from mild to severe, foregoing some of the middle stages, while others may progress more slowly with more moments of cognizance.
The progression of dementia includes symptoms such as:
- Wandering, getting lost, or not being able to understand themselves or their surroundings
- Difficulty communicating
- Trouble remembering recent events
- Forgetting names, dates, and eventually faces
- Increased agitation, aggression, or edginess
- May have trouble walking, eating, or controlling their motor skills
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and accounts for about 60 to 80 percent of known cases. It’s typically a progressive disease that changes over time. While dementia can be a devastating diagnosis for anyone, with early treatment and diagnosis, the progression of dementia can be well managed.
According to Dementia.org, those suffering and caretakers alike can find solutions by understanding the different stages of the disease and then learning the necessary steps to combat it. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated.
Learning about the early stages of dementia can help you identify the signs and symptoms to protect and prevent further decline as the disease progresses.
1st Stage: Cognitive Decline is Minuscule
During the first stage, there might not be any noticeable cognitive decline. This is also identified as the normal functioning stage and is considered “pre-dementia.”
2nd Stage: Age-related Cognitive Impairment
During this stage, dementia can become more noticeable with more frequent lapses in memory such as forgetting where they placed an item or the names of those who were once very familiar.
This can often be related to age and natural cognitive decline, not necessarily dementia, but it can be one of the earliest signs of dementia. Usually after this stage, the signs can become more pronounced, eventually leading to a proper diagnosis.
3rd Stage: Mild Cognitive Impairment
This is the stage in which symptoms can become more pronounced and noticeable. A few key indicators during stage 3 include:
- Getting lost easily
- A noticeable lack of performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members or close friends
- Not remembering detailed information read
- Misplacing or losing things both simple and of great importance
- Difficulty concentrating even on tasks one typically enjoyed
4th Stage: Mild Dementia
During this stage of dementia, those afflicted with the disease may become more withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Many times, denial is prevalent as signs and symptoms become more pronounced. Some changes include but are not limited to:
- Forgetting current or recent events
- May have a hard time remembering one’s past
- Decreased ability to make plans or manage finances
- Feeling disoriented or out of place
- Might have difficulty recognizing faces
It is important to note that in stage 4, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or locations. People in this stage usually try to avoid challenging situations to hide symptoms or prevent stress and anxiety.
5th Stage: Moderate Dementia
Patients in this stage of dementia tend to need more assistance to carry out daily tasks. They may forget major places and names such as family members or telephone numbers. They may feel more frustrated more easily and may become confused about the time and place that they are in, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic personal information such as their address or telephone number.
Although moderate dementia can be difficult to identify, most patients do not need help completing basic tasks like eating and bathing.
6th Stage: Moderately Severe Dementia
At this stage in the dementia process, a patient can easily start to forget the names of significant loved ones like children or spouses and will most likely begin to need constant care. Patients may become disoriented and unaware of their surroundings, recall recent events, and have skewed memories of the past. Some things to look out for are:
- Delusional thoughts or behavior
- Obsessive behavior
- Anxiety and agitation
- Lack of determination
Patients may begin to wander, have difficulty sleeping, and in some cases will experience delusions that do not correspond with their reality.
As the last of these stages progresses, patients will progressively lose their fine motor skills and may lose their ability to speak. Loved ones and caregivers will need to assist with walking, eating, and other prominent daily functions. With awareness and understanding you can prevent the disease from progressing if caught in the early stages and with the right treatment plan. There are many options for loved ones and their loved ones can do after receiving a diagnosis.
The Main Takeaway:
Not everyone will experience dementia the same way. This can make it difficult for caretakers, loved ones, and those going through the stages. This is why is important to understand how the disease works and how it affects others. While the stages may be different for everyone, there are a few key moments to look out for that can help you delay or prevent the onset of some symptoms.
About The GreenFields Continuing Care Community
The GreenFields Continuing Care Community provides for the physical, social, and spiritual needs of residents in a Christian environment. In addition to skilled nursing, subacute rehabilitation, and outpatient therapy at GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center, The GreenFields offers a variety of living arrangements and support levels based on individual needs. This includes independent living apartments in GreenField Manor; assisted living apartments in GreenField Court; and memory care and enhanced assisted living in GreenField Terrace.