What are the Stages of Dementia?

October 15, 2023 | Memory Support
stages of dementia

Dementia is defined as a series of symptoms that progressively worsen. Each person experiences dementia differently, so it’s essential to understand how this condition advances. 

When someone you love receives a dementia diagnosis, one of the first steps to do as either a caregiver or a loved one is to learn more about the stages of dementia so you know what to expect and can come up with a plan for the future.

Astral at Auburn offers exceptional memory care in Auburn, Indiana, designed to celebrate each resident’s achievements. Our Navigate Memory Care program provides services and amenities that ensure purposeful living, meaningful experiences and new connections. 

To help you and your family navigate this journey, we’re sharing information about the various stages of dementia. 

Early, Middle and Late Stages of Dementia

There are seven stages of dementia broken down into three phases: early, middle and late. These three phases help to give a more general picture of what a person can expect throughout their journey.

In the early stages of dementia, a person can typically continue living independently. For example, they might be able to drive, run errands and carry out Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) without any extra assistance. The early stage is when a person begins to experience forgetfulness and confusion, similar to age-related memory loss.

The middle stage of dementia is when more moderate symptoms begin to impair a person’s daily routine, personality and behavior. This phase can include mood swings and behavioral changes, and your loved one might need daily assistance with ADLs and other tasks. 

The late stage is when a person can no longer live alone, as they will experience severe cognitive impairment and memory loss. 

7 Stages of Dementia

While the three phases of dementia are used to prepare individuals and families for what to expect, the seven stages of dementia are used by doctors and medical providers as a comprehensive tool to gauge where a person is in their dementia journey and can help caregivers track and monitor their loved one’s health. 

Stage One: No Cognitive Impairment

Stage one often looks like a person exhibiting normal cognitive function with no impairment. This is because a person within the first three stages usually hasn’t shown enough signs of concern to be diagnosed with dementia. Keep in mind, however, that changes are occurring within the brain during this time. 

Stage Two: Very Mild Cognitive Decline

In some cases, stage two is referred to as “age-associated memory impairment” as it mimics the typical age-related changes that a person will experience as they get older and can include instances of:

  • Losing track of familiar objects
  • Forgetting the names of loved ones, friends or former acquaintances

Stage Three: Mild Cognitive Impairment

While this stage doesn’t generally have a major impact on daily routines, it can become common to notice your loved one: 

  • Getting lost while traveling or running errands
  • Having trouble finding the right words during a conversation
  • Face challenges with organizational skills

Stage Four: Moderate Cognitive Decline

Stage four is when a person begins to exhibit more evident signs of dementia, and doctors and caregivers are likely to observe more concerning changes in behavior and personality. For example:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Moodiness or signs of depression
  • Lack of interest in activities or a lack of responsiveness

Stage Five: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

Stage five marks the middle phase of dementia, and a person might no longer be able to carry out ADLs independently without a caregiver’s assistance. Your loved one might still remember general information about their life but might begin to forget details like their home address, the name of the college they attended or even the names of their grandchildren. Other symptoms can include:

  • Wandering
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation and Sundown Syndrome

Stage Six: Severe Cognitive Decline

At stage six, you might begin to wonder if your loved one would benefit from full-time memory care as their symptoms become more complex and severe. Your loved one might have issues with their behavior in public, have trouble regulating sleep and interacting with others. Other symptoms can include:

  • Incontinence
  • Aggression 
  • Inability to recognize loved ones and caregivers

Stage Seven: Very Severe Cognitive Decline

Stage seven is when a person has reached late-stage dementia and can no longer care for themselves. Most individuals at this stage will have lost verbal ability, face limited mobility and find that their bodily functions (like chewing and swallowing) are disrupted. 

Memory Care in Auburn, Indiana

What makes Navigate Memory Care in Auburn, Indiana, so special is our dedication to providing a safe, comforting environment for residents to enjoy. We want to ensure that each individual is able to find a home within our community. 

If your loved one is going through their dementia journey, understanding how the various stages of dementia can affect them over time is crucial to ensure you and your family can easily navigate this difficult situation. 

We invite you to contact Astral at Auburn today to learn more about our memory care community, services and support.

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