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:
A Word About Progression
Alzheimers typically progresses slowly and transitions from mild to severe symptoms. The rate of progression varies widely between people. People with Alzheimers live an average of 4 to 8 years after their diagnosis, but some people live more than 20 years.
The risk of progressing to a higher stage increases with age. For example, in a
The 5 Stages Of Dementia Explained
Dementia is a complex condition that interferes with a loved ones memory, communication, language, judgment, and overall brain function. Dissimilar from memory slips that can occur with old age, dementia is a progressive malady that can be caused by Alzheimers disease, and it impairs parts of the brain that are vital in processing speech and spatial awareness. It is very common for people to confuse dementia with old age. After all, its normal for people to forget things as they get older however, dementia and age-related memory loss are two entirely different things.
While it may be frustrating to watch your loved one struggle with dementia, this should be the time to consider professional care from highly trained specialists. At Paradise Living Centers, residents with dementia receive around-the-clock care from our certified caregivers and licensed nurse. Its our mission to ensure residents are given the quality care they deserve, and their families are given the peace of mind they desire.
At Paradise Living Centers, we want to take a moment to educate family members about the five stages of dementia. As we mentioned previously, dementia is a progressive condition caused by Alzheimers disease.
If you believe your loved one is suffering from dementia, consider these five stages of the condition:
Stage 1: CDR-0, No Impairment
Stage 2: CDR-0.5, Questionable Impairment
Stage 3: CDR-1, Mild Impairment
Stage 4: CDR-2, Moderate Impairment
Stage 5: CDR-3, Severe Impairment
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When Is Memory Care Needed
Memory care is specialized care for seniors with dementia. It includes 24-hour supervision to prevent wandering, help with ADLs, meal services, and, often, health care as needed.
Memory care can be beneficial from the early stages of dementia through the end of life. Specially designed memory care activities, dining plans, and exercise programs cater to all seven stages of dementia in elderly loved ones.
When to seek memory care will vary depending on a seniors dementia symptoms, health status, living situation, and more. Reach out to our free, local Senior Living Advisors to discuss memory care and dementia home care options for your family.
Reisberg, B., Ferris, S.H., de Leon, M.J., and Crook, T. The global deterioration scale for assessment of primary degenerative dementia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1982:
National Institute on Aging, What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?:
Can Alzheimers Be Cured Naturally
While there is no cure for Alzheimers, there are ways that you can improve the quality of life for those affected by the illness. Some steps you can take to lessen symptoms including eating a balanced, low-glycemic diet, avoiding sleep deprivation, eating healthy fats and brain foods, detoxing from heavy metals, manage stress, and receive Neurofeedback treatments.
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How Quickly Does Dementia Progress
The speed at which dementia progresses varies a lot from person to person because of factors such as:
- the type of dementia for example, Alzheimers disease tends to progress more slowly than the other types
- a persons age for example, Alzheimers disease generally progresses more slowly in older people than in younger people
- other long-term health problems dementia tends to progress more quickly if the person is living with other conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, particularly if these are not well-managed
- delirium a medical condition that starts suddenly .
There is no way to be sure how quickly a persons dementia will progress. Some people with dementia will need support very soon after their diagnosis. In contrast, others will stay independent for several years.
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.
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Does A Person With Dementia Know They Are Confused
In the earlier stages, memory loss and confusion may be mild. The person with dementia may be aware of and frustrated by the changes taking place, such as difficulty recalling recent events, making decisions or processing what was said by others. In the later stages, memory loss becomes far more severe.
Stages Of Alzheimer Disease
The stages of Alzheimer disease usually follow a progressive pattern. But each person moves through the disease stages in his or her own way. Knowing these stages helps healthcare providers and family members make decisions about how to care for someone who has Alzheimer disease.
Preclinical stage. Changes in the brain begin years before a person shows any signs of the disease. This time period is called preclinical Alzheimer disease and it can last for years.
Mild, early stage. Symptoms at this stage include mild forgetfulness. This may seem like the mild forgetfulness that often comes with aging. But it may also include problems with concentration.
A person may still live independently at this stage, but may have problems:
Remembering a name
The person may be aware of memory lapses and their friends, family or neighbors may also notice these difficulties.
Moderate, middle stage. This is typically the longest stage, usually lasting many years. At this stage, symptoms include:
Increasing trouble remembering events
Problems learning new things
Trouble with planning complicated events, like a dinner
Trouble remembering their own name, but not details about their own life, such as address and phone number
Problems with reading, writing, and working with numbers
As the disease progresses, the person may:
Physical changes may occur as well. Some people have sleep problems. Wandering away from home is often a concern.
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What Can We Do For People With Late Stage Dementia
Although research has yet to yield something new on the medicinal front, that doesnt mean the care of people with severe dementia should solely be focused on their physical needs. Care should provide comfort, preserve dignity and include activities that stimulate the senses. There are no activities that will suddenly jar loose a bunch of memories or repair the damage. In fact, such attempts can be really upsetting to someone with late-stage dementia. Experts recommend that instead, you focus on providing small tasks that are repetitive and engage each of the senses: site, touch, smell, hearing and taste. Always consult with the clinical staff before running any activities, and arm yourself with realistic expectations.
If you have any questions about how to best care for someone diagnosed with dementia or about our assisted living community, please contact Paradise Living Centers at 878-4112.
Stage : Severe Cognitive Decline
Stage six is also sometimes referred to as middle dementia. At this stage, an individual needs substantial assistance to carry out simple day-to-day activities, and completing tasks becomes much more difficult.
Additionally, stage six is the start of significant personality changes. The person may start to suffer from anxiety, agitation and delusions. For example, they may think they have to get ready for work, even if they havent held a job for several years.
Some of the common symptoms in stage six are:
- Difficulty remembering recent events
- Remembering faces but forgetting the names of close family members and friends
- Confusing individuals, such as thinking their wife is their mother
- Retaining little memory of their earlier lives
- Difficulty with cognitive skills, such as counting backward from 10
- Incontinence of the bowel or bladder
- Diminished speaking ability
- Problems putting on clothes properly
- Requiring help with bathing and maintaining personal hygiene
- Tendency to wander if left unsupervised
On average, stage six lasts 2.5 years.
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Moderate Dementia Or Moderately Severe Decline
Stage 5 lasts about 1 1/2 years and requires a lot of support. Those who dont have enough support often experience feelings of anger and suspicion.
People in this stage will remember their own names and close family members, but major events, weather conditions, or their current address can be difficult to recall. Theyll also show some confusion regarding time or place and have difficulty counting backward.
Caregiver support: People will need assistance with daily tasks and can no longer live independently. Personal hygiene and eating wont be an issue yet, but they may have trouble picking the right clothing for the weather or taking care of finances.
The Early Stages Of Dementia: Noticeable Cognitive Decline
A person is not typically diagnosed with dementia until theyre at stage 4 or beyond. This is when medical professionals and caregivers notice personality changes, as well as cognitive impairment.
Dementia stage 4: moderate cognitive decline
At this point, a person has clear, visible signs of mental impairment. While its considered mild or early stage dementia, the medical terminology for the fourth of the seven stages of dementia is moderate cognitive decline.
Doctors and caregivers will likely notice a worsening of stage 3 dementia symptoms, such as difficulties with language, problem-solving, and travel.
Stage 4 dementia symptoms
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Facts About Alzheimer Disease
Alzheimer disease is becoming more common as the general population gets older and lives longer. Alzheimer disease usually affects people older than 65. A small number of people have early-onset Alzheimer disease, which starts when they are in their 30s or 40s.
People live for an average of 8 years after their symptoms appear. But the disease can progress quickly in some people and slowly in others. Some people live as long as 20 years with the disease.
No one knows what causes Alzheimer disease. Genes, environment, lifestyle, and overall health may all play a role.
Stage : Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
Stage five marks the beginning of moderate dementia. Memory deficiencies are now becoming severe, and people often require assistance with daily living activities. An individual may start to need help with dressing and preparing meals. Some loved ones may choose to limit their assistance so that the individual still feels some degree of independence. For example, a loved one may lay out the individuals clothes for the day, but allow them to dress independently.
If the individual was previously living independently at home, this would have to change. At this stage, the person requires monitoring and can no longer live alone. If a person in stage five doesnt get the support they need from loved ones or hired help, they often develop behavioral problems such as anger and suspiciousness.
Some of the common symptoms in stage five are:
- Forgetting important information, such as a home address and phone number
- Difficulty identifying where they are or what time of day it is
- Forgetting significant life details, such as where they went to school
- Inability to remember significant current-day information, such as the name of the President
- Confusion about picking appropriate types of clothing for the season
- Repeating the same question
- Difficulty with simple arithmetic, such as counting down from 20 by twos
- Wearing the same clothes every day unless theyre reminded to change
Stage five typically lasts 1.5 years.
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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.
Stage : Severe Dementia
Hopefully, you and your loved one will never see this stage. At this stage, dementia has progressed to such a degree that it has left a physical impact on the person. Despite having an otherwise perfectly able body, the sufferer may lose most of their physical capability and movement.
This isnt the only thing they lose. Unlike in the previous stage where they may be living in some kind of self-created illusion of the world, by this point, most people with Alzheimers will barely have anything left. Perhaps their very core memories, their earliest and most precious ones, may survive the mental onslaught.
It is also undeniable at this point your loved one may be completely unrecognizable in terms of temperament and behavior. You will have a hard time reconciling the patient before you with the person you once knew and loved dearly, and it will be a difficult burden to bear.
Some of the symptoms you should be prepared for include:
- Loss of coherent communication, as the brain struggles to form proper thoughts
- Total assistance with daily tasks, including eating, using the bathroom, and grooming
- Difficulty with actions such as swallowing
- Difficulty with bladder and bowel control
- Inability to sit upright
- Inability to hold ones head up
- Requires assistance to walk
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Stage : Dementia Becomes Apparent
For some lucky folks, most dementia will stay relatively mild for the rest of their lives. In some wonderful cases, they may even recover from it! Alzheimers disease, unfortunately, gives no such luxury. Essentially, all the symptoms that they showed in the second stage become even worse.
This is the point when everyone starts noticing something is wrong. You may notice your loved one struggling to remember recent events or struggle with doing tasks they previously had no issues with. In some cases, theres even a change in personality maybe they suddenly start withdrawing in social situations, or they lash out at people around them without warning.
Whats happening at this point is that the brain is starting to deteriorate and develop mild dementia. This affects things higher-level functioning like:
- Being able to express oneself
- Understanding and processing information
- Short-term memory loss
- Long-term memory formation, due to short-term memories unable to last long enough to be transformed into long-term memories
- Navigation, especially in unfamiliar places
- Placement of belongings
Its likely that youll want to hire someone to check in on them on a regular basis if youre unable to do it yourself. If you can move in, that would be ideal but by this point, most people with Alzheimers can be stubborn in demanding their independence. And it can be really, really hard to explain to them why they shouldnt be alone anymore.
What Are The Stages Of Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers is a disease that affects that parts of the brain responsible for memory, thought, and language. Sadly, it is irreversible and is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimers Association.
Whether youre a caretaker or one of the 5.8 million affected by the disease, you may be wondering what the stages of Alzheimers are. Were here to answer that question!
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Stage : Mild Cognitive Decline
In stage three, individuals start to experience increased forgetfulness, difficulty with focus and trouble concentrating. The disease symptoms are beginning to advance to the point that they may result in decreased work performance. Those who arent working may experience decreased performance with ordinary household tasks, such as paying bills and cleaning.
Some of the symptoms a person may exhibit in stage three are:
- Getting lost sometimes
- Struggling with finding the right words when communicating
- Forgetting something they just read
- Asking the same question repeatedly
- Finding it challenging to make plans or organize
- Inability to remember names when meeting new people
- Losing items frequently, including valuables
In stage three, performance on a memory test would be affected, and a physician may detect impaired cognitive function.
The average duration of stage three is approximately 7 years before the onset of dementia.