Seven Stages of Dementia

Approximately 25 percent of people will suffer from dementia as they age. You may be the adult child of an aging person who may be afflicted with some type of dementia. You may be unsure if that is the case, but you wonder if your parent is suffering from some form of dementia. 

Through this article, we discuss what are known as the seven stages of dementia. Armed with this information you will be able to determine whether or not your parent may be suffering from dementia. 

The seven stages of dementia are:

  1. No cognitive decline
  2. Age-associated memory impairment
  3. Mild cognitive impairment
  4. Mild dementia
  5. Moderate dementia
  6. Moderately severe dementia
  7. Severe dementia

Before diving into the seven stages of dementia, an important notation is necessary. In stages 1 through 3, a person is not considered to suffer from dementia. Rather, an individual technically is deemed to be in stages of pre-dementia.

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

In stage 1, an individual appears to have no noticeable cognitive impairment or significant problems with memory. At this juncture, a person is considered to be at a normal cognitive stage.

Stage 2: Age-Associated Memory Impairment

At stage 2, a person will have occasional memory lapses. Oftentimes, the decline noted at this stage is the result of normal aging. There are instances in which the level of memory impairment exhibited in stage 2 is indicative of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. 

Examples of the types of memory losses exhibited in stage 2 include:

  • Forgetting where a person has placed an item
  • Forgetting names that were once very familiar

Concerns about early onset dementia might be exhibited at this stage.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment

At stage 3, mild cognitive impairment can be exhibited. Examples of mild cognitive impairment 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

At stage 3, people oftentimes experience mild to moderate anxiety as symptoms begin to interfere with day to day living. During stage 3, people might be encouraged to seek a clinical appointment and interview to obtain a proper diagnosis. 

Stage 4: Mild Dementia

Stage 4 is identified as that involving mild dementia. People tend to become more socially isolated at stage 4. Denial also becomes a defense mechanism in regard to the further cognitive decline that an individual will experience in stage 4.

During stage 4, people have no problem recognizing familiar faces. They have no problem traveling to familiar locations. On the other hand, people in this stage often avoid challenging situations. They do this in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.

Behaviors to be on the lookout for during stage 4 include:

  • Decreased knowledge of current or recent events
  • Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
  • Decreased ability to handle finances, arrange travel plans, and with similar activities.
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty recognizing faces and people that are not previously highly familiar to an individual

Stage 5: Moderate Dementia

People at stage 5 are said to have moderate dementia. 

Individuals at stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives or to undertake activities of daily living. These are also known as activities of daily living. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented in regard to the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.

While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.

Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia

Life for an individual with dementia begins to markedly change at stage 6. It is at this stage that an individual forgets the name of his or her spouse, forgets the names of children, and so forth. 

During stage 6, an individual with moderately severe dementia will become generally unaware of surroundings, unable to recall recent events, and will have skewed memories of their personal past. A person in stage 6 may also experience difficulty sleeping and have hallucinations.

Additional signs of stage 6 dementia include:

  • Delusional behavior
  • Obsessive behavior and symptoms
  • Anxiety, aggression, and agitation
  • Loss of willpower

An individual at stage 6 will need assistance with the activities of daily living. They will need assistance from an in-home caregiver or need assistance at an assisted living community. 

Stage 7: Severe Dementia 

The symptoms of severe dementia are profound. A person at stage 7 of dementia will experience a loss of motor skills. An individual at this stage gradually will lose the ability to speak at some juncture during stage 7.

During this final stage of dementia, a person’s brain seems to lose its connection to a person’s body. An individual at this stage will need assistance with:

  • Walking
  • Eating
  • Using the bathroom
  • Grooming
  • Bathing

It is at this course that the family of a person with stage 7 dementia will want to consider the prospect of having the individual transition to a memory care center or memory center. 

In conclusion, the National Institutes of Health reports that by identifying the earliest stages of dementia medical intervention may be possible that delays the onset of more significant symptoms. Most cases of dementia are progressive. With that duly noted, some case of dementia may be reversible. In the final analysis, the more aware you are of these seven stages of dementia set forth in this article, the quicker you will be able to react and seek help, either for yourself or for parent or other loved one.