The terms "dementia" and "Alzheimer's" are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two different conditions. According to HealthLine.com, dementia isn't a disease, but a group of symptoms affecting a person's mental tasks, like reasoning and memory. The symptoms of dementia can be caused by several conditions, the most common of which is a disease known as Alzheimer's.
The Seven Stages of Dementia
No known cure for the symptoms of dementia currently exists. Over time, symptoms worsen to cause an increase in mental impairment. Medical science has identified a total of seven dementia stages.
Stage 1: No Impairment
The first dementia stage is marked by no obvious symptoms. Affected persons can function independently and may experience mental lapses so small that they remain unnoticed.
Stage 2: Very Mild
During the second dementia stage, symptoms are slightly noticeable. They're often passed off as forgetfulness due to lack of rest or age. Things like misplacing one's glasses or keys but finding them after a small search are common.
Stage 3: Mild
Mild dementia occurs in stage three, and while most patients are often able to tackle basic daily living activities, performing them grows harder. Symptoms begin to expand and become more noticeable at this stage. They can include:
- Memory loss and forgetfulness
- Losing an item and being unable to retrace steps to find it
- Troubles managing finances
- Confusion while driving or completing daily tasks
- Loss of concentration
- A hard time managing medications
Stage 4: Moderate
The fourth dementia stage is when patients struggle to complete routine tasks they never used to have an issue completing, such as laundry, cooking, or using a telephone. As their mental state deteriorates, symptoms increase and some of the following ensue:
- An increase in forgetfulness and memory loss
- An inability to find or use the right words and phrases
- Challenging mental math exercises become difficult
- Increasing social withdrawal
Stage 5: Moderately Severe
Once a patient reaches stage five, they will need day-to-day assistance. As their independence begins to wane, the following symptoms present:
- Greater increase in forgetfulness and memory loss
- Confusion regarding what's happened and where they are
- Minimally challenging mental exercises are hard
- Help in selecting appropriate clothing is required
Stage 6: Severe
During the sixth dementia stage, a caregiver is usually introduced to assist the patient. At this stage, the patient often appears unaware of what is happening around them. Caregivers will help them with:
- Getting dressed
- Personal hygiene
- Supervision to avoid wandering or becoming lost
- Inability to recall the names of family, friends, or caregivers
- Sleep disturbances
- Hallucinations, paranoia, or other behavioral changes
Stage 7: Very Severe
The seventh and final stage of dementia is when symptoms are most severe. Patients often lose language skills and awareness of their surroundings. They are unable to recognize people. They can also lack control over urination and lose the muscle control required to smile and swallow – even to sit or walk without support. They will require assistance with every facet of life.
The stages of dementia are somewhat standard, meaning they don't vary much person to person. Use them to help plan for the future by working with your doctor to develop a treatment plan. For more information, contact a hospice care facility such as Carolina East.