Understanding the Stages of Dementia: A Comprehensive Guide

seniors in early stages of dementia

Dementia is a degenerative cognitive disorder that affects memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday tasks. You may suspect your loved one is in the beginning stages of dementia. Even though there isn’t a universally agreed-upon set of dementia stages, the Global Deterioration Scale is sometimes used to outline how the disease progresses. 

The 7 Stages of Dementia

Please understand that people with dementia do not always have Alzheimer’s disease. There are other types of dementia, including Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Here’s how dementia progression stages typically work.

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

There are no noticeable cognitive deficits at this stage, and the individual’s cognitive function is considered normal for their age.

Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Decline

At this stage, a person may experience normal age-related forgetfulness, such as misplacing keys or forgetting names. These memory lapses in the early stages of pre-dementia are generally not severe enough to interfere significantly with daily life.

different stages of dementia

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline (Early-Stage Dementia)

In this middle stage, individuals may experience more mild cognitive impairment. They may have trouble with memory, finding words, or performing familiar tasks. A family member may start to notice this mild decline.

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline (Mild Dementia)

At this point, dementia symptoms become more pronounced. Individuals may need help with basic arithmetic, complex tasks, and planning. Memory deficits are more noticeable, and they may need help managing finances or remembering recent events.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline (Moderate Dementia)

In this stage, individuals require assistance with many activities of daily living. Memory loss worsens, and they may have trouble recognizing familiar faces, including those of family members. Personality changes and behavioral issues can also arise.

severe stage of dementia

Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline (Moderately Severe Dementia)

Individuals in this stage of dementia typically require extensive assistance with daily activities. They may lose the ability to use familiar words, forget recent events, and become disoriented to time and place. You may have to worry about your loved one getting lost – even in a familiar setting. Behavioral symptoms can become more challenging, and they may require constant supervision.

Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline (Severe Dementia)

In the final stage of dementia, individuals may lose the ability to speak, walk, and swallow. They become entirely dependent on others for full-time care, and their cognitive function deteriorates to the point where they may no longer recognize family members or their surroundings.

Dementia Stages Aren’t the Same for Everyone

It’s important to note that the progression of dementia can vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience all these stages in the same way or the same order. Additionally, there are different types of dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia), and the specific symptoms and progression may differ depending on the underlying cause. 

Help Is Available

If your loved one is experiencing any age-associated memory impairment, contact Retirement Unlimited. Our Inspiritás – Memory Care communities offer innovative and compassionate approaches. Memory care focuses on the resident’s overall wellness, life enrichment, and diet. 

We are here to celebrate life with our residents while maintaining their safety and comfort. 

Schedule a visit at one of our memory care residences in your area. We are here to help. 

Key Takeaways 

  • The progression of dementia varies depending on the person and diagnosis.
  • The seven stages of dementia outline the progression of common symptoms of those with age-related memory issues.
  • Memory care units are available for those in the moderate or late stages of their memory disease. 

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