Caring for a loved one can be a challenge under even the most ideal circumstances. But if you suspect that your loved one is experiencing memory issues, it can be difficult to manage your own emotions in addition to what their condition requires. That’s why so many caregivers will seek out help with Alzheimers care from at-home nurses or Alzheimers care facilities. But before you get to that point, it may be helpful to know the signs that can help you with early detection of dementia, as well as the different dementia stages that exist. If any of the more advanced stages of dementia sound familiar, contact your loved one’s doctor right away.
The Seven Stages of Dementia
Although Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, it might surprise you to learn that there are actually many different types of dementia out there. Many people actually experience a combination of different types. And while these memory conditions cannot be cured, there are certain kinds that can be slowed, or at least managed, with proper knowledge and care. Health professionals will refer to seven distinct dementia stages, which refer to the progression of the disease in an individual. Each stage is based on symptoms and can help determine the appropriate treatment approach for each patient.
Stage One: No Cognitive Decline
If you have no signs of memory loss or decreased cognitive function, you’d be considered to be stage one. In other words, this individual would have no dementia or would be considered in the pre-dementia phase.
Stage Two: Very Mild Cognitive Decline
Memory issues in this stage are considered to be normal and a result of aging. An individual may forget where they placed an object or the name of a person, for example. While these symptoms may be an indication of early onset dementia, they need to be accompanied by other symptoms to assist in a diagnosis.
Stage Three: Mild Cognitive Decline
This stage involves the onset of cognitive issues that may interfere with everyday life. Concentration problems, increased forgetfulness, getting lost, poor work performance, and reading retention difficulties can start to manifest during this stage, as can moderate anxiety.
Stage Four: Moderate Cognitive Decline
Individuals in this stage are considered to have mild dementia. Hallmark symptoms include difficulty with managing finances, decreased ability to remember recent events, problems completing complex tasks, denial of symptoms, withdrawal from family or social situations, disorientation, problems traveling alone, inability to recognize faces, and difficulty remembering their personal history.
Stage Five: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
Those with moderate dementia usually require assistance to complete daily tasks like dressing, bathing, and meal preparation. Individuals in this stage have major deficiencies in memory, which typically extend to components in their present lives. For instance, a patient may not be able to remember their address, phone number, the date, where they are, or the names of close family members (though they can usually recall the names of their spouses and children, as well as their own).
Stage Six: Severe Cognitive Decline
Patients in this stage will require extensive assistance throughout their daily routines and will often have little memory of recent events or even the names of their children, spouses, and caregivers. Usually, they will require full-time care. They may also have issues with incontinence, speaking, or sleeping and may also experience delusions, compulsions, agitation, anxiety, mood swings, and loss of willpower.
Stage Seven: Very Severe Cognitive Decline
In the latest of the dementia stages, individuals will have virtually no ability to communicate or speak and will require assistance with most daily activities. Many patients lose the ability to walk and may no longer exhibit any motor skills.
No one wants to think about how their loved one’s health may decline. But knowing what to expect with each of these dementia stages, and understanding the telltale signs of memory diseases, can help you make a more informed decision about their care. Ultimately, most familial caregivers find that, even when they have the best intentions, their loved one’s needs can be better met in memory care facilities. This can allow you to enjoy the time you spend with your loved one without the added stress of managing their condition.