There are seven dementia stages. This is a brief and complete dementia overview. These stages of dementia are a scale used by health care professionals. For simplicity, the layperson will hear or read about only three stages of dementia.
There is early onset dementia, middle stage dementia and end stage dementia. These are the stages an individual will experience….with a progressive and untreatable form of dementia.
I will go into more detail about these three levels. Each stage will present different and new challenges. I will help you to expect those challenges, And educate you on how you, as a caregiver, can provide care.. And advocate for the aging senior inflicted with dementia.
Let's do a brief dementia overview of the seven stages:
Stage 1 – No impairment. Able to function normally
Stage 2 - Minimal cognitive decline. Starts to have problems remembering words and where common objects are placed. This is the early sign of dementia.
Stage 3 – Mild cognitive decline. Difficulty retrieving new information. Difficulty with planning. Organizing and performance at work or with things at home becomes more noticeable.
Stage 4 – Moderate cognitive decline. Short-term memory is compromised. The individual is unable to plan and organize more complex tasks... such as planning a grocery list and cook a meal. Will begin to become withdrawn and avoid challenging situations.
Stage 5 Moderate cognitive decline. This is the beginning of what we will refer to the middle stages of dementia. Experiences poor memory recall about personal information. Becomes confused and disoriented about time and location. The individual begins to need assistance... in making appropriate clothes choices, to dress for the weather or a special occasion.
Is still able to feed and toilet self and keep knowledge of family member’s names and faces.
Stage 6 – Severe cognitive decline. The challenges become more difficult as major and unpleasant personality changes can occur. There is an increase in the amount of care required.
At this stage, help is needed for most activities of daily living. The sleep/ wake cycle will begin to change. At this stage, an individual will have frequent episodes of incontinence. This is a stage where wandering can occur. Individuals may become suspicious, accusatory and develop repetitive behaviors.
Stage 7 – Very severe cognitive decline- this is the end stage of dementia. The individual is no longer able to respond to the environment. Unable to control physical movement and becomes unable to communicate. Inability to eat or swallow may occur. Let’s begin our journey into the challenges we face caring for someone with dementia at home.
It is possible to provide care at home through all of these dementia stages. It is important to be knowledgeable about the disease process.
The caregiver will…
As a caregiver, you will share moments of lucidity with your aging senior. This will give you a sense of hope that there will be a change and recovery will take place. Eyes filled with emptiness follow those moments of lucidity. The person you once knew is lost to you again. Some caregivers grieve the loss of the person they are caring for everyday.
It is important to understand, with progressive dementia, there is no improvement. Only good moments and bad ones. And a slow steady decline.
Let’s explore what to expect as a caregiver in the different dementia stages.
Early signs of dementia
Middle stage dementia
Hospice for end of life planning