Once your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, there are many things you must learn to ensure that they are cared for properly. Unfortunately, the progressive brain damage that causes dementia is incurable and irreversible. There is some positive news, though- if your loved one’s dementia was diagnosed early, there are potential methods that can help manage and slow down some forms of dementia. Early diagnosis relies on catching symptoms early, so the cognitive decline and other symptoms associated with dementia were broken down into seven identifiable stages. Learning these stages will help with early diagnosis, as well as assist those diagnosed and their caretakers with understanding what can be expected next.

The Seven Stages of Dementia

Stage 1 No Cognitive Decline

This stage is also known as the normal functioning stage. In this earliest stage of dementia development, the patient does not generally exhibit any significant issues with memory or other cognitive impairments.

Stage 2 Age-Associated Memory Impairment

The occasional memory lapses most frequently seen during this stage are forgetting names that were once very familiar and forgetting where they placed an object. This mild decline in memory is often normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also indicate the early symptoms of degenerative dementia. Because signs of dementia at this stage are virtually undetectable with clinical testing, concerns about dementia should arise with other symptoms.

Stage 3 Mild Cognitive Impairment

Clear cognitive issues begin to arise in stage 3 of dementia. A few signs that will manifest during this stage include:

  • Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
  • Getting lost easily
  • Issues with retaining information read in a passage or book
  • Misplacing or losing important objects
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Noticeably lacking performance at work

Patients affected by dementia will often begin to feel mild to moderate anxiety as their day-to-day life starts to be affected by these symptoms. Because symptoms have become more detectable, individuals should be encouraged to see a clinician for proper diagnosis. Stages 1 through 3 of dementia progression are typically referred to as pre-dementia stages.

Stage 4 Mild Dementia

During this stage, patients may begin to withdraw from their social life and show changes in mood and personality. It is also common for dementia patients to deny symptoms as a defense mechanism. Behaviors that should be looked for during stage 4 include the following:

  • Issues remembering one’s own personal history
  • Decreased ability to arrange plans, handle finances, etc.
  • Disorientation
  • Failing to recognize faces and people
  • Reduced knowledge of recent and/ or current events

Those affected with dementia may avoid situations that are challenging for them to prevent stress or anxiety and hide symptoms from loved ones.

Stage 5 Moderate Dementia

Patients that have progressed to stage 5 will require some assistance to live their daily lives. The main indicator for stage 5 dementia is a failure to remember major details such as a home address or close family member’s names. Patients may have difficulty making decisions, become disoriented about the place and time, and forget basic details about themselves. Patients with stage 5 dementia typically do not need assistance with basic functioning tasks like eating and using the bathroom, but they will likely benefit from some daily assistance.

Stage 6 Moderately Severe Dementia

During stage 6, the patient will begin to forget the names of their spouse, children, or primary caregivers. Once this stage has been reached, full-time care will likely be necessary, as they will generally be unaware of their surroundings. They may also be unable to recall recent events and develop skewed memories of their own past. Loved ones and caregivers should look out for delusional and obsessive behavior, anxiety, agitation, and loss of willpower. Patients may be likely to have trouble sleeping, wander, and experience hallucinations.

Stage 7 Severe Dementia

The patient will begin to lose their mobility and ability to speak during stage 7 of dementia. It will seem as though their brain has lost its connection with the body. Severe dementia is typically characterized by the loss of all speech and verbal abilities. They will need assistance with basic tasks like eating, walking, and using the bathroom.

Which Stage Lasts the Longest?

Dementia is a progressive condition that affects different people in different ways. There may not be a way to predict how dementia will affect your loved one, but there is information that can help prepare you for the progression of your loved one’s condition. Mild dementia typically lasts between two and four years, moderate dementia typically lasts between two and ten years, and severe dementia typically lasts one to three years. Therefore, the moderate stage of dementia has the capacity to last the longest.

Dementia FAQs

Q: How Many Stages of Dementia are There?

A: There are seven stages of dementia. The first three stages are typically considered pre-dementia. Stage four is mild dementia. Stage five is moderate dementia. Stage six is moderately severe dementia. Stage seven is severe dementia. The exact duration of each stage depends entirely on the individual that has been diagnosed.

Q: What Is the Life Expectancy of Dementia?

A: The life expectancy of someone diagnosed with dementia depends on the type and stage of dementia. For example, someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease has a life expectancy of 8-10 years after diagnosis, while someone diagnosed with vascular dementia has a life expectancy of around five years. Regardless of the type of dementia that is diagnosed, it is still possible to live a fulfilling life.

Q: In What Stage of Dementia is Wandering Most Likely To Occur?

A: Wandering is most likely to occur during stage 6 of dementia or the moderately severe stage. Other symptoms that arise during this stage can include forgetting the names of close family, difficulty sleeping, hallucinations, and skewed memories of their own personal history. For these reasons and to help ensure safety, full-time care will likely become necessary during this stage.

Q: What Is the Last Stage Of Dementia, and How Long Does It Last?

A: Stage 7 is the last stage of dementia. It is the stage where a dementia patient’s body will begin shutting down. They will lose the ability to perform basic tasks, like eating and using the bathroom, on their own. This stage will typically last between one and three years, depending on the type of dementia.

Experienced and Compassionate Dementia Care

At Rocky Mountain Assisted Living, our staff is highly trained in dementia care. This includes recognizing signs of dementia and indicators that dementia is worsening. For more information on how we can help care for the most important people in your life, schedule a consultation with us today.