Stages of Dementia: The 7 Progressive Stages of Dementia

stages of dementia

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Dementia is a term that is used to describe progressive mental and cognitive declines that affect more than 55 million people with about 10 million new cases diagnosed each year. The progression of this disease can be divided into what is known as the 7 stages of dementia.

While symptoms in each stage of dementia may vary, physicians and caregivers use these stages to help create treatment plans as well as help equip caregivers and family members with the tools they need to adequately help their loved ones.

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

Stage 1 of dementia shows no signs of dementia. This is classified as normal functioning and does not show any signs of memory or cognitive impairment. This is known as a pre-dementia stage.

Stage 2: Associated Memory Impairment

Stage 2 dementia shows signs of mild cognitive decline. This includes some forgetfulness which is normal signs of aging. The forgetfulness that is seen may not be noticable to loved ones, friends, -or physicians. Stage 2 dementia individuals can still do tasks on their own.

While in stage 2 dementia you might see small signs such as:

  • Sporadically forgetting names
  • Forgetting where you put important things such as your phone and keys

How you can help?

If you start to see signs of dementia, start planning now. Get affairs in order as well as legal and financial paperwork.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment

In stage 3 dementia loved ones and physicians can start to see cognitive problems. This stage of dementia can last between 2 and 7 years.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Forgetting things more often
  • Mild concentration issues
  • Lower work performance
  • Gets lost more often
  • Has difficulty finding the right word
  • Close friends and family begin to notice the change happening

If you notice your loved one exhibiting the above signs and symptoms mentioned in stage 3 dementia, it is a good idea to see a doctor to be properly diagnosed.

How you can help?

If you have a loved one who is in stage 3 dementia you can help them by reminding them about appointments, important dates, or to pay bills. It is a good idea to help them get their legal and financial affairs in order. Consult a physician, neurologist, and therapist who specializes in dementia to help understand dementia as well as create an action plan for care.

Stage 4: Moderate Changes / Mild Dementia

Stage 4 dementia usually comes with denial. They may be in denial that they have dementia. With this comes changes in personality and mood. In stage 4 dementia , the person living with dementia usually stick with things they know and avoids challenging situations so that others won’t see their symptoms. This stage usually lasts for about 2 years. In this stage, physicians will start to see cognitive issues in medical exams and interview questions.

Symptoms of stage 4 dementia include:

  • Losing objects because they can’t remember where they put them
  • Struggling to find the word they want to use in conversations
  • Struggling with days, dates, and times
  • Lose of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Does not want to try new things
  • Increase anxiety, irritability, and depression
  • Trouble remembering names especially with people they just met
  • Struggles with planning and organizing.

How you can help?

If you have yet to help your loved ones get their affairs in order, now is the time. You can also help them with everyday tasks and chores.

In this stage, those living with dementia struggle with financial responsibility and are more susceptible to scams as well as people taking advantage of them financially. Helping them with their bills and helping them manage their money will be a huge help at this point forward.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

In stage 5 dementia, your loved one will start to need help with everyday tasks such as bathing and getting dressed. They may require an assistant to come live with them or may need to go live in a memory care facility to make sure that they can stay safe at all times. This stage usually lasts about 1 ½ years.

Symptoms of stage 5 dementia include:

  • Forgetting important things such as their address and phone number
  • Forgetting how to bathe
  • Struggling choosing clothes to wear
  • Struggling knowing where they are
  • Doesn’t remember the time or date
  • Asking the same question many times

How you can help?

While in stage 5 dementia there are several things you can do to help your loved one. One thing you can do is help them lay out their clothes for the next day and provide assistance as needed with dressing tasks. This helps them continue to have a sense of independence while helping them. When your loved ones are asking you the same question, respond positively to them so they do not experience increased frustration. When they are telling you stories, they will most likely forget some of the details. If it is a story or memory you know you can help them with, fill in the missing pieces or let them use their imagination to retell it.

Stage 6: Severe Decline

In stage 6 dementia, your loved one might recognize your face, but can’t remember your name. They might also think that you are someone else. A granddaughter might turn into an old girlfriend or a son into a father. They may even experience hallucinations in this stage. This stage on average lasts about 2 ½ years.

As stage 6 dementia sets in your loved one might need help

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Feeding themselves
  • Get Dressed
  • They may also struggle with:
  • Mood swings
  • Getting lost and wandering
  • Problems sleeping
  • Difficult speaking
  • Bladder issues

How you can help?

While your loved one is in stage 6 dementia, you can help them with daily activities such as getting dressed and self care. You can connect with them by reading to them or listening to music together. Looking through old photo albums together and sharing stories with them from the past years can help them experience those old memories.

Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline / Late Dementia

In stage 7 dementia your loved one will no longer recognize loved ones or past memories. They can no longer make healthcare decisions placing the burden on loved ones to make these decisions. Your loved one will require 24 hour care to perform day to day activities. This stage lasts on average 1 ½ to 2 ½ years.

Symptoms of stage 7 dementia include:

  • Cannot speak / communicate
  • Requires help with day to day activities
  • Loss of motor skills

How you can help?

At this stage many loved ones impossible to provide the care for their loved one on their own.You may consider finding a good long term care facility that offers around the clock care.

If you or a loved one are showing signs of dementia talk to a doctor to begin a treatment plan so that you can get the help that you need. If your loved one is experiencing any of these signs listed above in the various stages, it’s important to consult with your doctor to discuss the next steps. If you live in Texas and are in need of some additional tips & resources when caring for your loved one, contact me Your Dementia Therapist to further identify your areas of concern to help you better manage the care of your loved one living with dementia.

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