It is important to understand the stages of dementia in order to provide for a loved one. Each stage carries various signs and symptoms.
Dementia refers to a set of symptoms rather than a disease. Dementia may be caused by various diseases or conditions. Symptoms include deterioration in memory, thinking, or behavior that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Among the most notable, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia, accounting for approximately 50-80% of dementia cases. Other forms of dementia include vascular and frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.
|Diagnosis||Stage||Signs and Symptom||Expected Duration of Stage|
|No dementia||Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline||In this stage, the person functions normally, has no memory loss, and is mentally healthy. People with NO dementia would be considered to be in Stage 1.||N/A|
|No dementia||Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Decline||This stage is used to describe normal forgetfulness associated with aging. For example, forgetting names and where familiar objects were left. Symptoms of dementia are not evident to the individual’s loved ones or their physician.||Unknown|
|No dementia||Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline||This stage includes increased forgetfulness, slight difficulty concentrating, and decreased work performance. People may get lost more frequently or have difficulty finding the right words. At this stage, a person’s loved ones will begin to notice a cognitive decline.||Average durations of this stage is between 2 and 7 years|
|Early-stage||Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline||This stage includes difficulty concentrating, decreased memory of recent events, and difficulties managing finances or traveling alone to new locations. People have trouble completing complex tasks efficiently or accurately and may be in denial about their symptoms. They may also start withdrawing from family or friends because socialization becomes difficult. At this stage, a physician can detect clear cognitive problems during a patient interview and exam.||Average duration of this stage is 2 years|
|Mid-stage||Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline||People in this stage have major memory deficiencies and need some assistance to complete their daily living activities (dressing, bathing, preparing meals, etc.). Memory loss is more prominent and may include major relevant aspects of current lives. For example, people may not remember their address or phone number and may not know the time or day or where they are.||Average duration of this stage is 1.5 years|
|Mid-stage||Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline (Middle Dementia)||People in Stage 6 require extensive assistance to carry out their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). They start to forget names of close family members and have little memory of recent events. Many people can remember only some details of earlier life. Individuals also have difficulty counting down from 10 and finishing tasks. Incontinence (loss of bladder or bowel control) is a problem in this stage. Ability to speak declines. Personality / emotional changes, such as delusions (believing something to be true that is not), compulsions (repeating a simple behavior, such as cleaning), or anxiety and agitation may occur.||Average duration of this stage is 2.5 years|
|Late-stage||Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline (Late Dementia)||People in this stage have essentially no ability to speak or communicate. They require assistance with most activities (e.g., using the toilet, eating). They often lose psychomotor skills. For example, the ability to walk.||Average duration of this stage is 1.5 to 2.5 years|