The Progression of Dementia

Dementia is sometimes believed to be a mental disorder or illness.  However, the dementia stages actually refer to a set of symptoms that develop as the result of damage to the brain from the result of other conditions, most commonly being Alzheimer’s disease and strokes.  The symptoms that someone with dementia may experience will depend on what part of the brain may be damaged.  The most common symptoms of dementia include memory loss and difficulties problem-solving, thinking or even speaking.

Unfortunately, one of the most devastating parts of learning you or a loved one has dementia is that it is both incurable and irreversible.  However, the good news is that with early detection and with the appropriate care, the progression of dementia can be slowed down.

The progression of this condition is typically categorized in seven dementia stages, with the most common scale used for showing the progression of dementia being the Reisberg Scale (also known as the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia or “GDS” for short).

STAGE 1 DEMENTIA: No Cognitive Decline

Stages 1 through 3 are also known as “pre-dementia stage” and typically do not show any signs of memory loss or problems with cognitive skills or movement.  Stage 1 is also classified as the “normal functioning stage”.

STAGE 2 DEMENTIA: Age Associated Memory Impairment

During Stage 2, a dementia patient may experience occasional lapses of memory, particularly with respect to forgetfulness of names of familiar people or where they placed an object.  The reason that Stage 2 is also known as “Age Associated Memory Impairment” is because these symptoms are typically seen as we get older.  However, this type of memory loss can be an early sign for detection and diagnosis.

STAGE 3 DEMENTIA: Mild Cognitive Decline

Stage 3 includes very evident signs of cognitive impairment.  This can include getting easily lost, performing poorly at work, having difficulty concentrating, losing and misplacing things, forgetting names of close friends and family, and having difficulty with reading comprehension.  This is typically the stage when people begin to experience frustration and even anxiety as these symptoms begin to affect their normal day-to-day life.

STAGE 4 DEMENTIA: Mild Dementia

Now out of the “pre-dementia” phase, individuals begin to show clearer signs of dementia, including forgetfulness and memory loss associated with recent or current events, trouble remembering their past, disorientation, as well as difficulty in managing their finances or arranging travel.  Individuals with mild dementia can also begin to show changes in their personality and mood, withdrawing from social situations in an effort to cover-up or avoid showing signs of dementia to others.  Others can even be in denial as a defense mechanism.

STAGE 5 DEMENTIA: Moderate Dementia

Patients with Stage 5 dementia typically require some assistance to manage daily life, including basic functioning such as eating or using the bathroom.  Individuals may forget major details, such as where they live or their telephone number, and can even forget what time it is or where they’re at.  It is at this stage that most family members determine that their loved one with dementia requires around-the-clock supervision and sometimes even in-home care.

STAGE 6 DEMENTIA: Moderately Severe Dementia

At Stage 6, patients begin to experience severe memory loss of very familiar people, such as their spouse, children, and primary caretakers.  They are typically extremely disoriented and can begin to show signs of delusional and obsessive behavior.  This can be a very difficult and challenging period as both those with dementia and their loved ones try to manage their emotions and feelings around what is going on.  It can be very painful to watch your loved one not recognize you or remember your name.  Patients can begin to show a great deal of agitation and even aggressive behavior and act out of character.  It’s during this stage that patients typically do require around-the-clock care, as they may wander and even experience hallucinations.

STAGE 7 DEMENTIA: Severe Dementia

Once a patient has reached Stage 7, in addition to the symptoms above, it is as if the patient’s brain loses connection with the body.  They will progressively lose motor skills and the ability to speak.

In-Home Assistance

If you are or someone you love has been diagnosed with dementia and requires additional in-home assistance or have questions about the different dementia stages, contact the compassionate and certified caregivers of Options In-Home Care today.  Located in the greater Los Angeles, San Bernardino or Orange County areas of California, the caregivers of Options In-Home Care are here to assist you and your loved ones!

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