The 7 Stages of Dementia, Explained
Dementia is a tremendously widespread condition; over 6 million Americans struggle with its Alzheimer's form. It's a frightening condition both for the patient and their loved ones. And yet, despite its prevalence, many cannot completely answer the question, "What is dementia?"
Living with dementia is a daily effort for many people, and we want to equip you to support your loved one through this condition. However, to do so, you need to be prepared for its stages and effects.
In this article, we'll briefly discuss the 7 stages of dementia. By understanding the stages of dementia, you can better understand what your loved one is struggling with and how to help them. Let's get started!
Stages of Dementia 1-3
For many people, it feels as though dementia comes out of nowhere. One day their parents have no problems, and then they seem to be falling apart. However, dementia is a crafty condition. When it first appears, it's nearly impossible to identify.
When dementia first takes root, it doesn't show itself immediately. In several cases, the person will show no signs of change. Memory loss, behavioral changes, and the other usual dementia symptoms remain aloof.
In the second stage of dementia, you will notice very mild cognitive decline taking effect. The dementia patient will start to show mild levels of forgetfulness that most would attribute to a sign of aging.
By stage three, this develops into mild cognitive decline. At this stage, noticeable symptoms begin to manifest clearly. These symptoms include decreased work performance, increased forgetfulness, concentration problems, difficulties with driving, and some verbal repetition.
Stage 4: The Beginnings of Dementia
Once the patient reaches stage four, they will display dementia symptoms much more noticeably. At this point, loved ones should seek out memory care experts to help share the caregiving load.
This phase typically lasts approximately two years, during which time you can expect the following symptoms:
- misplacing items
- forgetting recent conversations
- unwillingness to try new things
- increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and irritability
- losing track of days, dates, and times
Stages 5-6: Middle-Stage Dementia
This phase of dementia consists of a transition from moderately severe cognitive decline to severe cognitive decline.
The moderately severe stage usually lasts approximately four years, during which time short-term memory fades completely. The patient will experience increased confusion and irritability.
In cases of severe cognitive decline, patients often forget the names of even their closest loved ones. Confusion continues to increase, along with difficulties communicating.
Other common symptoms include difficulty with perception, changes in sleeping patterns and rhythms, and getting lost easily.
Stage 7: Late-Stage Dementia
During this state, caregivers usually focus on keeping the patient comfortable. Their ability to communicate is all but completely lost, and patients require help with the simplest tasks.
Symptoms of late-stage dementia include restlessness, outbursts of confusion, drastic changes in weight, and difficulty eating.
Taking the First Step
Each of the stages of dementia only makes the situation more tragic. However, if you get the proper care in time, its effects may become lessened. Take the first step and talk to a doctor if you suspect your loved one has dementia.
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