Associated with the progression of dementia are seven stages describing the effects of the disease and the individual’s mental state. These seven stages are important to learn about and recognize because they can help you to understand where your loved one stands; furthermore, what kind of care they might need.
- Normal behavior
This first stage of dementia is included to show that changes are occurring in the brain, but no symptoms are present in the individual.
Forgetfulness is the second stage of dementia but can also be confused with normal age-related memory deterioration. Some examples include forgetting where they left their keys, forgetting the names of people, forgetting the names of places, etc. During this stage, it is most often considered safe for them to perform ordinary tasks such as driving, going on outings, and socializing as normal.
The “Mid-Decline” stage is where family members may start to recognize that their loved one is not acting normally. They may be forgetting things more frequently, experience a change in their behavior, or experience mood swings. This is considered the longest stage of dementia’s “decline” and can last up to seven years.
4. Moderate Decline
The moderate decline is the next stage of dementia where the person experiences forgetfulness often. For example, they might not remember what they had to eat for a meal, to pay a bill, or appointment times and dates. This stage lasts approximately two years.
5. Moderately-Severe Decline
While the individual may still be able to perform tasks related to self-care, they may need more attention and reminders throughout the day. During this stage, dementia symptoms vary widely from person to person; examples of these symptoms may include: incontinence, disturbed sleep, feeling withdrawn, wandering, and choosing appropriate clothing according to the season. They have trouble recalling what day or time it is and what they did the day before. However, they can often recall the names of familiar faces and family members. This stage lasts about a year and a half, on average.
6. Severe Decline
This stage of dementia can be very hard to handle for family members and loved ones because the individual may experience episodes of anger and aggression. They also need more help with self-care tasks, such as showering and assisting in the restroom. In order to keep this individual safe and cared for, constant supervision is needed. In spite of that, your loved one may still be able to recognize close family members. This stage is estimated to last two and a half years.
7. Very Severe Decline
This stage of dementia is relatively rare to reach because oftentimes the individual will pass due to other natural causes and previous unrelated health conditions. At this stage, the individual loses the function of speech and other motor functions. They require assistance with all activities of daily living such as toileting, feeding, dressing, and showering. This stage most often requires the help of professional carers.
The individual diagnosed with dementia may not experience all of these symptoms or progress in this exact order. However, it is important to be informed of the signs and symptoms of dementia in order to recognize possible signs in your loved one. If you expect that your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, scheduling an appointment with your Personal Care Provider for an official evaluation is recommended. Caring for someone with dementia is emotionally and physically difficult; however, there are numerous online and in-person support groups for family members of individuals with dementia.