How Many Stages Of Dementia Are There
There are several different types of Dementia, with Alzheimers disease being the most common. Though when it comes to the different stages of Dementia, we can typically categorise the trajectory of the disease as mild, moderate or severe.
Although this three stage model is useful for providing an overview of early, middle and final stages of Dementia, most people prefer a seven stage model that breaks cognitive decline down into seven specific categories. The progression of Dementia will be different for everyone, but knowing where a loved one falls on this scale can help to identify signs and symptoms, whilst also determining the most appropriate care plan. So, what are the 7 stages of Dementia?
How To Reduce Risk
There is evidence to suggest maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing vascular dementia after all, what is good for the heart is also good for the brain. This involves eating a balanced diet with a good intake of fruit and vegetables and minimising alcohol intake. Stopping smoking and getting plenty of sleep also has long-term benefits.
Exercise is known to improve blood supply, reducing the risk of heart disease and vascular problems which are factors, particularly in vascular dementia.
Regular health checks and management of health conditions such as diabetes raised cholesterol and blood pressure will also aid in the reduction of risk.
For help and support around dementia, please contact Dementia UKs Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678 or .
You can also find further information at dementiauk.org
Caring For Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life
Please be aware – this information is for healthcare professionals. We also have information for the public.
You can use our My Learning form to reflect on how this page has helped with your continuing professional development.
People with dementia may experience problems with thinking, memory, behaviour and mobility. It can be difficult to recognise when someone with dementia is nearing the end of their life. You can support the person by communicating with them and helping them with any symptoms they have. If possible, its a good idea to plan the persons care in advance to help understand what they want from their care.
On this page:
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How Long Will A Person With Dementia Live For
Whatever type of dementia a person has, their life expectancy is on average lower. This is why dementia is called a life-limiting condition. This can be very upsetting to think about.
However, its important to remember that, no matter how a persons dementia changes over time, there are ways to live well with the condition.
Good support can make a huge difference to the persons quality of life at all stages of dementia.
How long a person lives with dementia varies greatly from person to person. It depends on many factors, such as the ones listed on The progression and stages of dementia page.
Other factors include:
- how far dementia had progressed when the person was diagnosed
- what other serious health conditions the person with dementia has such as diabetes, cancer, or heart problems
- how old the person was when their symptoms started older people are more likely than younger people to have other health conditions that may lower their life expectancy. A person in their 90s who is diagnosed with dementia is more likely to die from other health problems before they reach the later stages than is a person diagnosed in their 70s.
Stage : Initial Mild Stage
Initial mild stage is also one of the vascular dementia that people should know and try to reduce its signs and symptoms for good.
This is known as the starting of this kind of disorder. During this stage, he or she will become more forgetful than ever before.
They will have difficulty in remembering what they were talking about and what they need to do. Besides, they will find it hard to concentrate at work, thus decreasing work performance. People can get lost more often and feel difficult to find the right words.
This stage of vascular dementia often begins to show signs and symptoms, about 5-7 years before the prediction of the presence of this disorder. Also, there is no diagnosis of vascular dementia.
This is in brief one of the vascular dementia stages, so people should not look down, yet work with their doctors and familiars in order to manage their conditions.
How Important Are The Stages Of Dementia
The stages of dementia are just a guide and there is nothing significant about the number three. Equally, dementia doesnt follow an exact or certain set of steps that happen in the same way for every person with dementia.
It can be difficult to tell when a persons dementia has progressed from one stage to another because:
- some symptoms may appear in a different order to the stages described in this factsheet, or not at all
- the stages may overlap the person may need help with some aspects of everyday life but manage other tasks and activities on their own
- some symptoms, particularly those linked to behaviours, may develop at one stage and then reduce or even disappear later on. Other symptoms, such as memory loss and problems with language and thinking, tend to stay and get worse with time.
It is natural to ask which stage a person is at or what might happen next. But it is more important to focus on the person in the present moment. This includes their needs and how they can live well, and how to help them with this.
For more support on living well with dementia see The dementia guide: living well after diagnosis or Caring for a person with dementia: a practical guide .
And for more information about treatment and support for the different types of dementia go to the following pages:
How Is Delirium Different From Dementia
Delirium is different from dementia. But they have similar symptoms, such as confusion, agitation and delusions. If a person has these symptoms, it can be hard for healthcare professionals who dont know them to tell whether delirium or dementia is the cause. When a person with dementia also gets delirium they will have symptoms from both conditions at once.There are important differences between delirium and dementia. Delirium starts suddenly and symptoms often also vary a lot over the day. In contrast, the symptoms of dementia come on slowly, over months or even years. So if changes or symptoms start suddenly, this suggests that the person has delirium.Dementia with Lewy bodies is an exception. This type of dementia has many of the same symptoms as delirium and they can vary a lot over the day.
Other symptoms of dementia
Dementia can cause a number of different symptoms. Here we explain some of these changes and suggest practical ways to manage them.
- taking multiple medications
- having already had delirium in the past.
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Dementia Stages: How Fast Dementia Progresses Stages Of Dementia And More
Dementia is a progressive impairment of cognitive function caused by damage to the brain. Over time, a person with dementia will have increased difficulty with memory, understanding, communication, and reasoning.
Healthcare providers frequently speak about a persons dementia in terms of stages. This can be helpful for communicating with family or other healthcare providers regarding the persons illness, and it is important for determining an appropriate care plan.
How Fast Does Dementia Progress?
It is important to note that dementia progresses at different speeds for every person, and for different types of dementia. The most well-known form of dementia, Alzheimers disease, is just one specific type of dementia, and tends to have the slowest progression of all types. Some factors that affect the rate of progression include:
- Repeated infections
What are the Stages of Dementia?
There are a few different systems used to grade dementia — at the most basic there is early, moderate, and end. Many providers use the system developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University which includes 7 stages. The Reisberg scale is also known as the GDS or Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia. This scale focuses primarily on cognitive abilities.
Dementia Stages in the Reisberg Scale
Dementia Stages in the FAST Scale
Dementia Stages in the CDR Scale
Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Precursor To Dementia
Many people experience a certain amount of normal cognitive decline as they age needing extra time to connect a persons name with their face, say, or to recall a computer password.
Mild cognitive impairment is more significant than that, involving lapses in memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are noticeable to the person and perhaps his or her own family and close friends yet not serious enough to interfere with everyday life.
About 15 to 20 percent of people age 65 or older are estimated to have mild cognitive impairment.
Researchers believe that mild cognitive impairment may be a precursor to dementia. A meta-analysis of 41 studies, cited by the Alzheimers Association, found that among people with MCI who were tracked for five years or longer, an average of 38 percent developed dementia.
Yet some people with mild cognitive impairment never get worse, and a few actually get better. Researchers are working to understand why.
Signs of mild cognitive impairment may include:
- Forgetting things or important events
- Losing your train of thought or the thread of a conversation, book, or movie
- Having trouble making your way around a familiar place
- Becoming more impulsive or showing poor judgment
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Life Expectancy And Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies accounts for around 7% of cases of dementia. Lewy bodies are tiny protein deposits that affect thought, memory and movement and are linked to both dementia and Parkinsons disease.
Hallucinations, sleep disturbance, and movement problems can be an early feature in dementia with Lewy bodies, so that diagnosis may be made at an earlier stage. Some research suggests that survival can be significantly shorter with this challenging condition, however, the Alzheimer’s Society says:
What Are The 7 Stages Of Dementia
Dementia does not affect every person in the same way. It presents itself differently in each individual and progresses at different rates. Some people will stay in a state of mild decline for an extended period, while others may develop multiple symptoms quickly. Understanding the seven stages of dementia can make these transitions a little easier for your loved one and you as their caregiver.
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What Are The Symptoms
Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. The different types of dementia tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages.
A person with dementia will often have cognitive symptoms . They will often have problems with some of the following:
- Day-to-day memory difficulty recalling events that happened recently.
- Repetition repeating the same question or conversation frequently in a short space of time.
- Concentrating, planning or organising difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks .
- Language difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something.
- Visuospatial skills – problems judging distances and seeing objects in three dimensions.
- Orientation – losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.
Some people have other symptoms including movement problems, hallucinations or behaviour changes.
Managing The Effects Of Mixed Dementia
If the symptoms are more suggestive of Alzheimers, the person with mixed dementia may be prescribed a type of medication called cholinesterase inhibitors. There are three options: Donepezil, Rivastigmine or Galantamine. However if vascular dementia is also suspected there is evidence that lifestyle changes and regular monitoring and treatment of blood pressure problems can prevent or slow the progression of the mixed dementia.
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Symptoms And Disease Course
Symptoms differ depending on what part and how much of the brain is affected, and can overlap with those of other types of dementia. Symptoms are likely to be more gradual and less dramatic in multi-infarct than in post-stroke dementia. For example, in multi-infarct dementia a gradual decline in some aspects of speech and language may be noticed, whereas immediately following a stroke there can be a sudden change in speech.
Vascular dementia does generally progress, but the speed and pattern of cognitive decline, motor skills slowing, and mood changes can vary. Some individuals may experience memory loss, whereas others may exhibit changes primarily in mood and behavior.
Like all dementias, individuals in later stages will show overall cognitive changes and will depend on others for care. Symptoms common in both post-stroke and multi-infarct type dementia can include:
- confusion and difficulty problem-solving
- changes in mood including loss of interest in regular activities
- trouble finding the right word
- motor symptoms including clumsiness and slow or unsteady gait disturbance.
Family caregivers may find it difficult to know how to provide help when symptoms are so variable. Getting a definitive diagnosis will make it easier to provide care now and in the future.
Stage : Second Last Stage Late Vascular Dementia
This is the last but very important out of the vascular dementia stages that I would like to reveal in this entire article and want you and my other readers to know for good.
In case the condition has still progressed, there is not much medicine can do. People in this stage have basically no ability of speaking or communicating. The only thing you can do is to give people who are in the last stage of vascular dementia the possible care and love. They really need the help for all of their activities including eating, walking and using the toilet. This is known as the late vascular dementia.
Each individual with vascular dementia experiences the illness in their own way. However, these signs and symptoms described below often occur in the later stages of most cases.
Communication problems: The people with vascular dementia will experience problems with understanding what is happening around them. They find it hard to communicate with other people. Gradually, they may lose their speech or repeat a few words. However, their expression and body language can give you clues about their feeling. Many people can still return and receive emotional signals after they lose the ability to speak.
There are some things that can put you at risk of suffering from vascular dementia. Some of the risk factors can be controlled such as lifestyle, but some others cannot be controlled such as age and genes. Some risk factors contribute to underlying cardiovascular dementia.
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Vascular Dementia Treatment Options
Unfortunately, the damage vascular dementia causes with brain tissue cannot be undone. Its still important to enroll in proper treatment to ensure your loved one lives their life to the fullest. As far as vascular dementia treatment goes, you may help them regulate their blood pressure or diabetes with diet, exercise, medication, and the prevention of other drug and alcohol use.
Leaving sticky notes with routine instructions, to-do lists, and other helpful cues allows for a greater sense of independence despite the change in their cognition. Maintaining a high level of communication and giving them clear reminders of the date, their whereabouts, and their familys whereabouts is also good.
Do You Die From Dementia
The forgetfulness, confusion and communication problems of dementia are caused by increasing damage to cells in the brain. But the brain doesn’t just control memory and thought it is also the control centre for the body. Progressive brain cell death will eventually cause the digestive system, lungs, and heart to fail, meaning that dementia is a terminal condition. Studies suggest that, on average, someone will live around ten years following a dementia diagnosis. However, this can vary significantly between individuals, some people living for more than twenty years, so it’s important to try not to focus on the figures and to make the very most of the time left.
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The Seven Stages Of Dementia
One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.
Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.
Could It Be Rapidly Progressive Dementia
RPD can be difficult to diagnose. However, accurately diagnosing these conditions is critical in order to identify any treatable causes and protect against further brain cell damage. An early hospital assessment by a specialist can help pick up problems so that, where available, appropriate treatment can be initiated. Cancers, infections, toxins and autoimmune conditions could all cause a fast decline in mental function, as well as the more common neurodegenerative causes of dementia such as Alzheimers, strokes and Parkinsons disease.
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Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.