April 6, 2021

What Are the 7 Stages of Dementia?

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Watching a loved one exhibit signs of dementia can be alarming and stressful, especially when you don’t understand how this condition develops. 

While every person with dementia progresses differently, there is a predictable trajectory that most people share. A seven-part scale has been developed to illustrate the stages of dementia and help physicians determine the best course of treatment. These stages also help caregivers determine how to meet their loved one’s medical, social, and personal needs. 

Knowing what to expect at each stage of dementia can make all the difference in your loved one’s care. Here are the 7 stages of dementia and what you should know about each one.

Stage 1: No Impairment

At this first stage, cognitive impairment has not yet begun. Mental capacity and ability to function normally remain the same, and there are no signs of cognitive decline or memory issues. In short, someone at this stage doesn’t exhibit any symptoms.

Stage 2: Very Mild Decline

By Stage 2, dementia is still unlikely to be detected by physicians. While an individual at this stage may experience routine forgetfulness and have trouble with misplacing their keys or phone, this appears to be nothing more than ordinary age-related memory loss. People at this stage frequently forget names or anniversary dates, but they can still perform well on memory tests. 

Stage 3: Mild Decline

Once a person has reached Stage 3, their cognitive struggles may become more outwardly obvious. While not completely debilitating, this stage of the disease can manifest as forgetfulness and difficulty with complex problem-solving. 

People at this stage may struggle to remember new names or find the right words during conversations. You may notice them asking the same questions over and over again, and they frequently misplace personal items. Individuals with Stage 3 dementia can also have trouble organizing, planning, and driving. In most cases, this stage lasts between two and seven years. 

Stage 4: Moderate Decline

Commonly referred to as “early dementia,” Stage 4 can have a major impact on a person’s ability to function independently. By this point, the disease is readily apparent and requires a professional health consultation. 

People with Stage 4 dementia have difficulty concentrating and may forget recent events or details about their life. Typically, they can no longer manage their own finances or travel to new places alone. It is not uncommon for adults at this stage to be in denial about their symptoms. They can experience issues with socialization and may become withdrawn from friends and family. Moodiness and non-responsiveness are also symptoms of this stage. Stage 4 usually lasts for two years. 

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline

By the fifth stage of the disease, your loved one will experience significant memory deficiencies and require help with many day-to-day activities like dressing and bathing. They can become confused about where they are, and they may struggle to recall things like their address or phone number. They may require the 24-hour support of a memory care community to assist them in daily living. On average, Stage 5 lasts a duration of 1.5 years. 

Stage 6: Severe Decline

During the sixth stage of dementia, your loved one may experience significant confusion and require constant supervision and professional care. They may struggle to recall details of their personal history, and face recognition often becomes a challenge. You may witness changes in their personality and mood as well. People in severe decline can also experience incontinence, delusions, anxiety, and have difficulty speaking. This stage lasts roughly 2.5 years. 

Stage 7: Very Severe Decline

The final stage of dementia is also referred to as “late-stage dementia.” People at this stage may lose their ability to communicate verbally and will require around-the-clock care. They often have trouble with motor skills and swallowing.

Provision Living Provides Dementia and Memory Care Support 

When you’re ready to explore a memory care neighborhood for your loved one, Provision Living is here to offer guidance and resources. Connect with one of our care consultants today to see how we can help you navigate this new chapter.

Please note that this article serves for educational purposes only and does not substitute as medical advice. If you have any questions about the health of you or your loved one, please consult with a qualified medical professional. 

Image credit: istockphoto.com