Below we answer the common question “What are the 7 stages of dementia?”.
A Brief Overview of Dementia
Dementia is not a disease. It’s an umbrella term used for symptoms that affects a person’s mental or cognitive abilities.
Estimates are that it affects 47 million people worldwide. Even more concerning is health experts predict this number to rise. By a lot. In fact, it’s estimated there will be 131 million people with dementia by 2050.
It is pretty scary to think about it. Especially since, at least for now, dementia is irreversible and incurable in most cases.
So, what can you do? The best option here is to be educated about dementia and be prepared. With early diagnosis and proper care, medical professionals can help you slow down the progression of dementia.
With that said, it is vital to learn about the early signs of dementia. According to health experts, dementia’s progression can be divided into seven stages. In this article, we will talk about what are the 7 stages of dementia to help you identify the signs and symptoms early on.
What Are the 7 Stages of Dementia?
1st Stage: No Cognitive Decline (Pre-Dementia Stage)
During this first stage of dementia development, you may not see or experience any significant problems with memory loss or cognitive impairment. There are no signs, no symptoms, no memory loss.
2nd Stage: Very Mild Cognitive Decline or Memory Impairment Linked to Aging (Pre-Dementia Stage)
The first outward signs start to appear in the second stage. But they are minor. Here you may see or experience some symptoms that are associated with signs of aging. This includes occasional lapses or memory loss.
In many cases, this mild decline in memory can be age-related. However, it can also be a sign of degenerative dementia. Most common signs and symptoms include:
- Forgetting names
- Misplacing familiar objects
- Symptoms not evident to loved ones or doctors
3rd Stage: Mild Cognitive Decline (Pre-Dementia Stage)
In stage 3 of dementia, the signs and symptoms start to manifest more. You may see or experience mild to moderate anxiety because these symptoms will start to interfere with your daily life. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating at work or anywhere
- Getting lost easily
- Poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Misplacing important objects
- Difficulty retaining information
People who experience one or more of these symptoms frequently are encouraged to seek professional help immediately for diagnosis.
4th Stage: Moderate Cognitive Decline (Early Stage of Dementia)
It is at the fourth stage where you may start to become socially withdrawn. You may also see or experience constant mood swings and changes in personality. People in this stage may also experience denial as a defense mechanism. Here are the most common signs and symptoms:
- All the signs and symptoms in the 3rd stage plus:
- Difficulty completing daily tasks
- Forgetting recent events
- Decreased ability to handle finances
- Withdrawal from friends or family
5th Stage: Moderate Dementia
In the 5th stage, dementia starts to interfere with your daily life. You may see or experience signs like becoming disoriented about the time and the place. Or forgetting basic information about themselves and their family members such as phone numbers, address, etc. Here are the most common signs and symptoms.
- Often forgets where they are
- Forgetting time and date
- Forgetting details like address, phone number, etc.
- Memory deficiency
6th Stage: Severe Dementia
At this stage, you may see or experience signs such as forgetting the names of your children or your spouse, or people who are most close to you. People that are on the 6th stage of dementia will need full-time care. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Delusional behavior
- Cannot recall recent events
- Constant agitation
- Obsessive behavior
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty counting down from 10
- Difficulty speaking
7th Stage: Late Stage Dementia
The last stage is the 7th stage. You will see or experience signs and symptoms such as losing the ability to speak properly, loss of motor skills, and more. Those who are on the 7th stage of dementia will need help caring for themselves and doing their daily routine. Here are the most common signs and symptoms:
- Inability to communicate verbally
- Requiring help with daily activities
- Cannot walk
- Loss of motor skills
Identifying the early stages of dementia is crucial so you know when to seek medical help. Most cases of dementia are progressive, so it’s vital to get a proper diagnosis as early as possible.