Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.
You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.
Stage : 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 To Identify The 7 Stages Of Dementia
Dementia is a general term that encompasses different types of disorders, including Alzheimers disease, dementia with Lewy Bodies, frontotemporal dementia and others. While each type of dementia progresses differently, there are two general diagnostic models used to describe the progression of dementia: the three-stage model and the seven-stage model. With the latter, the decline of a patient is separated into more specific stages than the earlier. The seven-stage model is based off of the Global Deterioration Scale, an assessment tool created by Dr. Barry Reisberg to assist friends, family and caregivers with recognizing the clinical signs of the disease.
Prior to assessment, caregivers look at different behaviors demonstrated by the individual. Not only is memory assessed, but the persons judgment, sense of direction, personal care and daily activities are considered as well. Based on the severity of the dementia, a care plan can be devised by a physician and the individuals caregivers. In the earlier stages of dementia, an individual will still have independence and be able to perform many activities without assistance. When entering the later stages of dementia, the individual will need around-the-clock assistance for most daily activities.
The following is a summary of the seven stages of dementia, according to the model created by Dr. Reisberg:
Don’t Miss: Ribbon Color For Dementia
Stage : 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
- Doesnt remember the time or date
- Asking the same question many times
Using The Gds To Measure Dementia Progression
As the disease progresses, different signs and symptoms will become increasingly obvious. While there are several scales to measure the progression of dementia, the most common scale is the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia . The scale is also known as the Reisberg Scale. According to the GDS, there are seven different stages of Alzheimers disease correlating with four distinct categories: no Alzheimers, mild Alzheimers , moderate Alzheimers , and severe Alzheimers .
Don’t Miss: Does Prevagen Help Dementia
Stage : Moderate Cognitive Decline
Stage 4 is often referred to as the mild dementia stage. When an individual enters this period, he or she will clearly demonstrate deficits when given cognitive examinations.
During Stage 4, you can expect your family member or friend to show continued difficulties with concentration as well as trouble recalling recent events. Short-term memory issues may include things like forgetting what they ate for lunch that day. Memories about past events may begin to fade or become increasingly hard to recall.
Additionally, individuals at this stage of dementia find it hard to operate independently. You may notice they cannot manage their finances, or do not pay bills consistently or on time. The person may not be able to travel alone, especially to unfamiliar areas.
Social anxiety is common during this period. If you notice your family member or friend begin to withdraw themselves from social interactions, it may be due to memory difficulties. They may not remember names and begin to forget personal histories.
Lastly, he or she may also feel in denial about the symptoms and wont want to accept medical assistance. At this stage, a diagnosis from a physician is most likely and a care plan would be recommended. A caregiver may need to assist with managing finances and driving duties. The person will also need a lot of emotional support during this difficult time. Although timeframes for this stage will vary, Stage 4 lasts an average of two years.
Stage : Very Severe Cognitive Declinesevere Dementia
At this stage, AD persons require continuous assistance with basic activities of daily life for survival. Six consecutive functional substages can be identified over the course of this final seventh stage. Early in this stage, speech has become so circumscribed, as to be limited to approximately a half-dozen intelligible words or fewer . As this stage progresses, speech becomes even more limited to, at most, a single intelligible word . Once intelligible speech is lost, the ability to ambulate independently , is invariably lost. However, ambulatory ability may be compromised at the end of the sixth stage and in the early portion of the seventh stage by concomitant physical disability, poor care, medication side-effects or other factors. Conversely, superb care provided in the early seventh stage, and particularly in stage 7b, can postpone the onset of loss of ambulation. However, under ordinary circumstances, stage 7a has a mean duration of approximately 1 year, and stage 7b has a mean duration of approximately 1.5 years.
In persons with AD who remain alive, stage 7c lasts approximately 1 year, after which persons with AD lose the ability not only to ambulate independently but also to sit up independently , At this point in the evolution, the person will fall over when seated unless there are armrests to assist in sitting up in the chair.
Also Check: Purple Ribbon Alzheimer’s
Stage : Normal Outward Behavior No Dementiaquality Of Life: No Impact
You wont notice any changes with your loved one.
How You Can Help:
If you and your loved one are concerned about dementia, start to plan now. Use our tools to help your loved one document his or her values and priorities about the type of care wanted during the various stages of dementia. You can also watch for new signs that you may not have seen before.
Third Dementia Stage: Mild Decline
Family and friends may start noticing some cognitive and memory problems from the patient at the third dementia stage. Performance on both cognitive and memory tests is affected, and physicians can instantly identify impaired cognitive function. Senior citizens at third stage of dementia showcase some symptoms that may include:
- Trouble remembering names of people they meet
- Organizing and planning
- Asking the same question repeatedly
- Losing personal possessions which might include valuables
It is possible that affected adults can begin to experience mild or moderate anxiety during the third stage of dementia, primarily because of the symptoms getting in the way of their everyday life. Should one notice any of the symptoms, it is imperative that the affected individuals go through a clinical interview with a licensed clinician to receive the proper diagnosis. It helps to start an appropriate medical course of action.
Caregivers should also note that it is essential that they try and get rid of any stress that may be affecting the patient. Let them understand what is going on in a kind and loving manner so that they can prepare to embrace the journey ahead. They can also help the patients with memory in some ways such as reminding them to pay their bills and getting them to any appointments they may have on time.
You May Like: Dementia Color Ribbon
Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia
Although Alzheimer’s disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.
Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:
- personality changes reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
- lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
- language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
- becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking
Read more about frontotemporal dementia.
Caregiving During The Middle Stages
As cognitive function begins to decline in a more obvious way, patients could show symptoms like:
Easily losing track of time or whereabouts
Withdrawing from family and friends
Being scared of being alone or in new places
If a patient is still living at home or is in an independent or assisted living community, you might consider the beginning steps of moving them to a memory care facility.
As a caregiver, you might recognize that the patient:
Needs more help completing daily tasks
Is becoming less independent and
Needs frequent reminders
While you search for a memory care facility, continue to provide love, support, and companionship as needed.
You May Like: Neurotransmitters Involved In Alzheimer’s
What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.
There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.
What Causes Dementia
The causes of Alzheimers and related dementias can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may be taking place. While research has found that some changes in the brain are linked to certain forms of dementia, in most cases, the underlying causes are unknown. Rare genetic mutations may cause dementia in a relatively small number of people.
Although there is no proven prevention, in general, leading a healthy lifestyle may help reduce risk factors that have been associated with these diseases.
You May Like: Alzheimer’s And Neurotransmitters
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Caregiving During The Early Stages
During the early stages of dementia, patients typically experience very mild symptoms. Because most people continue to function independently, the symptoms may not even be noticeable in the very beginning.
As dementia progresses through the early stages, patients likely experience:
Difficulty staying on task and focusing
As a caregiver, you can simply provide support and companionship. You might also consider beginning to make plans for the future as the disease progresses.
Recommended Reading: Alzheimer’s Awareness Ribbon
Stage : Very Mild Cognitive Decline
Stage 2 can vary between typical age-related memory problems that most seniors face, such as forgetting specific dates or slower recall of a name or word. Or this stage could include some of the beginning signs of dementia that are often not obvious to doctors and loved ones. Some of the side effects that correspond with stage 2 include:
- Forgetting everyday phrases or names
- Forgetting the location of important objects
What Are The 7 Stages Of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is among the most common types of dementia, along with Alzheimers disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.
Since the most common type of dementia is Alzheimers, many people are unaware of the conditions that can lead to other types of dementia.
Vascular dementia can occur after blood cells in the brain are damaged, which can occur after a stroke, for example.
Learn what the seven stages of vascular dementia are, the causes, the risk factors, and how to support a loved one who may be experiencing symptoms.
Also Check: Alzheimer Ribbon Color
Stage : Severe Dementia
Stage 7 is considered the final stage on the Global Deterioration Scale. At this stage, the person has lost all ability to speak or communicate effectively. The individual may utter a few words or phrases, but they will not likely relate to his or her current environment. Individuals need assistance with the majority of daily living activities. They will need to be helped with not only bathing, dressing and meal preparation, but also eating and toileting. In the final stages of Alzheimers disease, individuals often lose the ability to swallow.
Severe dementia individuals are also at an increased risk for developing infections including pneumonia. Motor skills, including the ability to walk, occur at this stage. Angry outbursts are more widespread as the individual feels extreme agitation. Dementia individuals with these signs need around-the-clock care. This stage could last upwards of two years.
Stage : Subjective Memory Lossage Related Forgetfulness
Many people over the age of 65 complain of cognitive and/or functional difficulties. Elderly persons with these symptoms report that they can no longer remember names as easily as they could 5 or 10 years previously they can also have trouble recalling where they have recently placed things.
Various terms have been suggested for this condition, but subjective cognitive decline is presently the widely accepted terminology. These symptoms by definition, are not notable to intimates or other external observers of the person with subjective cognitive decline. Persons with these symptoms decline at higher rates than similarly aged persons and similarly healthy persons who are free of subjective complaints. Research has shown that this stage of subjective cognitive decline lasts 15 years in otherwise healthy persons.
Read Also: Difference Between Senility And Dementia
What Is Vascular Dementia
Dementia is a general term for issues with memory, reasoning, planning, and judgment. The causes for dementia vary depending on the symptoms and the underlying condition.
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimers disease, followed by vascular dementia.
While experts believe Alzheimers is caused by a buildup of abnormal proteins in the brain, vascular dementia is caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow in the brain.
This may occur after a stroke, or from any other condition such as a transient ischemic attack , that damages blood vessels in the brain and deprives it of oxygen.
As with many other types of dementia, vascular dementia can develop gradually, and the progression of the disease generally falls into seven stages.
Duration Of Stages: How Long Do The Stage Of Alzheimers / Dementia Last
No two people with dementia experience the disease exactly the same way, and the rate of progression will vary by person and type of dementia. In addition, it is not uncommon for individuals to have mixed dementia, meaning they have more than one type. That said, there is a natural course of the disease, and over time the capabilities of all persons with dementia will worsen. Eventually, the ability to function goes away. Keep in mind that changes in the brain from dementia begin years before diagnosis, when there are no outward symptoms. This makes it difficult to know how much time a person has left, though there are ways to come close to knowing life expectancy.
|Life Expectancy by Dementia Type|
|2 to 8 years following pronounced symptoms|
Mild DementiaIn this early stage of dementia, an individual can function rather independently, and often is still able to drive and maintain a social life. Symptoms may be attributed to the normal process of aging. There might be slight lapses in memory, such as misplacing eyeglasses or having difficulty finding the right word. Other difficulties may include issues with planning, organizing, concentrating on tasks, or accomplishing tasks at work. This early stage of dementia, on average, lasts between 2 and 4 years.
Recommended Reading: Alzheimer’s Dementia Definition
End Stage Of Dementia
The end stage of dementia is the most difficult stage for those suffering from the disease, and also for family members, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Victims lose what is left of their intellectual and physical capabilities and become completely dependent on others. The model is still shifting in considering end stage dementia an end of life condition experts are pushing this model in order to advocate for better pain and distress management for those suffering at their end.