A neurodegenerative disease, dementia causes debilitating symptoms. The symptoms include a short attention span, loss of verbal skills, deteriorating cognitive behavioral abilities, excessive mood swings, personality changes along with the inability to independently carry out everyday activities. Other symptoms include repetitive behavioral patterns, aggression, depression, a loss of social skills, and difficulty in following social cues.
Dementia is a progressive disease that results from physical changes in the brain. The progression of dementia varies from case to case. In some cases, the disease may progress very rapidly, while in other cases, it may take years to reach an advanced stage. There are seven stages of dementia.
Stage 1 – No impairment: In this stage, there is no apparent symptom of dementia. There are no memory loss problems, and dementia is still not detectable.
Stage 2 – Very mild decline: During this stage, there are very minor memory loss problems. A person may misplace their things or lose things around the house. They will clear a memory test successfully and dementia will still not be detected in this stage. The slight memory loss might be considered as forgetfulness related to aging.
Stage 3 – Mild decline: In this stage, there will be recognizable cognitive behavior problems. Unlike stage 2, dementia in stage 3 can be easily diagnosed by doctors through an examination of impaired cognitive function. A person’s performance in memory tests is also affected. In this stage, it becomes difficult to find the right words during conversations, organize and plan, and remember the names of people one has just met. Moreover, people in stage 3 of dementia tend to lose personal possessions quite frequently.
Stage 4 – Moderate decline: During this stage, the symptoms of dementia become very apparent. The symptoms in this stage include difficulty in simple calculations, bad short-term memory, and difficulty in managing finances and paying bills. Moreover, the person may forget small or major details about their life histories. Additionally, they may find it difficult to drive due to short spells of confusion. They may also have trouble in managing their medications. However, they are still able to do their basic daily activities with any difficulties.
Stage 5 – Moderately severe decline: At this stage, a person with dementia will need assistance with many daily routine activities. They have difficulties in dressing on their own. They suffer from severe confusion to the point of having a meltdown. Moreover, they find it difficult to remember simple details such as their phone number. Despite such debilitating symptoms, a person in stage 5 of dementia has been observed to maintain some level of functionality. For instance, they can still bathe independently. They are still able to recognize their family members and can still recall some details about their childhood and youth.
Stage 6 – Severe decline: During this stage, a person with dementia will need full-time assistance and professional care. The common symptoms include prolonged spells of confusion and unawareness about their surroundings and environment. They are unable to recognize faces except those of their closest relatives and friends. Also, they are unable to remember many details about their personal history. There is a loss of bladder and bowel control. There are potential behavioral problems and major personality changes. They may often wander off on their own.
Stage 7 – Very severe decline: In the final stage, a person with dementia is almost nearing death. They are no longer able to communicate or respond to their environment. They need constant assistance for every routine task. Some may even be unable to swallow.