Dementia is still a condition we are trying to understand, but in recent years science has made huge strides. We now know most people go through 7 stages of dementia. Read on to discover what they are and why it matters.
Dementia affects everyone in different ways and at different rates. Some need personal care early on, while others manage for many years by themselves. As all brains are different, and the illness is a condition that affects this important organ, no two people will experience dementia in the same way.
Despite this, most people do follow a similar path in terms of the progressiveness and presentation of symptoms. The 7 stages of dementia profile was developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University, and breaks down the way in which dementia affects somebody into clearly definable intervals.
What Are the 7 Stages of Dementia?
Stage 1: The Undetectable Stage
During this period dementia is first starting to affect the brain. However, because it is so early, the cognitive impacts are so small they are not recognisable.
Stage 2: Early Signs of Dementia
At this point, symptoms are just starting to show. Those living with dementia will have mild problems with things like memory, concentration and problem-solving. While detectable, impairment will be so minute that dementia is rarely diagnosed at this stage.
Stage 3: Mild Progression
Stage 3 is very similar to stage 2 in a lot of ways. However, this is the first point during the 7 stages of dementia that loved ones may start to notice changes as cognitive issues become a regular occurrence in day-to-day life. Noticeable symptoms may be memory issues, problems with conversation, finding the right words or attempting to make plans or solve problems.
Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline
This is the turning point of the 7 stages of dementia — where symptoms of the illness become easily identifiable. Symptoms displayed in early stages will worsen and affect day-to-day life in ways that are not debilitating, but certainly impactful.
This may mean the person starts to forget important memories, suffers from regular issues with short-term memory, takes longer to manage mental tasks like paying bills or maths, and experiences mild changes in mood.
Stage 5: Severe Symptoms
At this stage during the progression of dementia, most symptoms will have presented themselves — you may notice changes in mood, personality and mobility difficulties. Those living with dementia during stage 5 do have some ability to maintain their own lifestyle, but will likely need help in many day-to-day tasks.
Confusion is common, primarily caused by increased difficulty with memory and concentration. Long-term memory will likely remained fairly intact, as well as the ability to recognise relatives and close friends.
Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline
In terms of the 7 stages of dementia, this is where most people will identify a person as becoming drastically affected by their condition. It is a period of major shifts, from having conversations that go in circles to real difficulty communicating even the simplest information.
A person living with dementia while in stage 6 will need near-constant supervision and regular home care to ensure they are eating, drinking, sleeping, cleaning and generally looking after themselves. You may see big changes in personality and loss of functions like bladder and bowel control. Those living with dementia may also wander around without aim or focus, lose the capacity to recognise even close relations and have no ability to recall memories.
Stage 7: End of Life Stage
The unfortunate but unavoidable truth about dementia is that it is a terminal illness. Rarely does a person living with dementia succumb to the disease itself though, as it often takes a long time to progress and occurs later in life, which means other natural factors often result in passing. However, those who reach the final of the 7 stages of dementia will be severely affected by their symptoms. They often are unable to communicate or respond to the world around them, and have very restricted mobility.
Why Is it Important to Know the Stages of Dementia?
Dementia is something most of us don’t really want to think about, so acknowledging the stages of dementia in ourselves or loved ones can be a challenge. However, knowing which of the 7 stages of dementia somebody is experiencing can make a huge difference to the treatment and support they receive.
Proper care is vital for those showing dementia symptoms.
Effective support can really boost welfare and manage the effects symptoms have. Consider where somebody living with dementia is at in terms of the progression of their illness. From there, appropriate decisions can be made about support and care to ensure the best quality of life possible.
Abney & Baker understand the importance of proper home care services when it comes to supporting somebody living with dementia. We can provide assistance to those in all stages of dementia, making sure they continue to live life to the fullest. Contact Abney & Baker today to find out more. We aren't salespeople, we’re just here to help. If we can’t offer you what you need, we’ll still answer your questions and do our best to point you in the right direction