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Symptoms, Durations, and Treatment: The 7 Stages of Dementia

7 stages of dementia

If one of your parents was diagnosed with dementia, they have a long road ahead of them. In order for you to help them and remain involved in their life, you need to understand what they’re going through.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. It contributes to between 60 and 70% of all cases.

As the condition advances, it disrupts decision-making skills, memory, and the ability to learn. Eventually, dementia can cause serious language issues along with the loss of muscle control.

While dementia isn’t curable in most cases, there are treatments that can reduce the severity of the symptoms. In order to pinpoint how far the condition has advanced, you need to know the 7 stages of dementia.

Let’s go over each stage.

1. No Cognitive Decline

During the first stage of dementia, a person shows no symptoms at all. It may seem strange, but during this stage, a person acts and functions normally.

There are no signs of memory loss or trouble functioning day to day. In addition, a person in this stage won’t exhibit any abnormal behavior.

Because there’s no cognitive impairment associated with the first stage, you won’t be able to spot symptoms until the condition has advanced a little further.

2. Very Mild Cognitive Decline

When someone is in the second stage of dementia, it’s still hard to spot symptoms. This is because a person only has minor memory loss.

They may start to forget where they put something or the name of a person they just met. Because memory loss is common in aging people, even doctors or caregivers may not notice a problem.

If you see your parent on a regular basis, you may notice a very slight memory impairment. However, at this stage, it’s too early for an official diagnosis.

The best thing you can do if you notice minor forgetfulness is to stay vigilant. If the problem starts to increase, your parent may have moved into the next stage.

3. Mild Cognitive Decline

At this stage, the symptoms of dementia start to become more apparent. Although your parent will still be able to perform routine tasks, they’ll begin having trouble with memory loss and concentration.

If you notice your parent doing the same thing more than once, this is a sign of stage three dementia. This can be potentially dangerous if your parent must keep up with taking daily medications.

They may have trouble driving and concentrating on difficult tasks for long amounts of time. You may also notice your parent repeating themselves.

At this stage, it’s time to start thinking about care options, as there’s a good chance your parent’s dementia will start advancing quicker.

4. Moderate Cognitive Decline

As dementia moves into the next stage, your parent will start to have difficulty performing routine tasks they’ve done on a regular basis for years. This includes things like washing dishes, cooking, or doing laundry.

Your parent may start to have trouble finding the right phases or words during a conversation. Things like balancing a checkbook or doing a crossword puzzled start to present a serious challenge.

In addition, your parent may start to exhibit social isolation. They may also start become moody and frustrated with the side-effects of dementia.

Another symptom is denial. Your parent may not want to admit their condition is advancing or simply forget that they’re having trouble with certain things.

5. Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

At stage five, your parent will need assistance with day-to-day tasks. Memory loss and confusion will start to become severe. Things like getting dressed, making phone calls, and bathing become more challenging.

Your parent may also become confused about where they are. They may even have trouble remembering the events that happened that day.

Personal information becomes harder to remember. Even if they’ve had the same address and phone number for years, it may be hard for them to recall it.

Their problem-solving skills will start to diminish too. Making simple decisions starts to become a challenge. You’ll need to look into a dedicated caregiver or assisted living options.

6. Severe Cognitive Decline

If your parent has reached stage six, they’ll start to forget the names of close family members and friends. They may even forget your name.

Your parent may start having trouble sleeping. There’s also a chance they could experience hallucinations and paranoia. You may notice other behavioral issues such as anxiety, anger, and delusions.

Language and vocabulary will start to decline. Your parent may have trouble with simple cerebral challenges like counting down from 10 to 1.

Incontinence is common during this stage. Your parent will need daily assistance with things like going to the bathroom, bathing, and eating.

There’s also a higher risk of your parent wandering off or becoming lost. This is another reason you need to take the proper steps to ensure your parent is always supervised.

7. Very Severe Cognitive Decline

This is the most debilitating stage of dementia. During stage seven, your parent will need continuous assistance.

You’ll notice an extensive loss of language and vocabulary. In fact, many people in this stage lose the ability to speak altogether.

 They’ll also be unaware of their surroundings. Severe memory loss means they won’t recognize faces or understand who close family members or friends are.

During this final stage, motor skills become greatly diminished. Your parent won’t be able to walk or perform simple tasks.

A lack of muscle control makes it difficult to swallow, smile, or move around without help. Incontinence is also very common. This is why it’s imperative your parent have constant care.

Understand These 7 Stages of Dementia

Dementia can be hard to spot, especially in the early stages. However, understanding what to watch out for will help you catch it early. There’s a good chance your parent can get the help needed to live a healthy life for years to come.

Keep these 7 stages of dementia in mind when spending time with your parent. If you notice a problem, make sure you seek help right away.

We provide senior living care and assisted living for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Contact us today to learn more.