Dementia Stages

A Guide to the Three Dementia Stages

People who have Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain disorders are said to go through three dementia stages. These stages mark the progression of the illness from early indications of the disease through a middle stage and an end stage. Each of these dementia stages is marked by certain characters and behaviors.

Dementia is a type of catch-all term that is used to describe any kind of progressive brain disease where there is cognitive and memory loss. You can have dementia because of Alzheimer’s disease, or other medical conditions, such as head injury, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease or HIV. There is also vascular dementia, substance-induced dementia and dementia due to multiple etiologies (causes).

The majority of people affected by dementia stages are over the age of 65. As you get older your probability of acquiring dementia increases, from 2% of all people between ages 65-69 up to a high of 20% of the people between the ages of 85-89. While dementia is different in each individual, the condition is marked by three distinct stages.

Early Stage
The earliest of the dementia stages is marked by some particular characteristics. One of the first is when people start to have difficulty performing their every day tasks. For instance, you may have cooked breakfast, lunch and supper for sixty years and then walk into the kitchen and have no idea at all how to fry a hamburger or boil an egg.

If you work outside of the home, you may start getting into trouble because you can’t remember deadlines or appointments. Or you may have had a hobby you loved your entire life and now you have no desire to take part in the activity. You can start to forget where you live or the route to get to work.

You can also start to lose your ability to think abstractly, which means you cannot understand generalizations. You may have paid the bills your entire life and wake up one morning to find you don’t know how to write a check. In the earliest of the dementia stages, you can start using the wrong words in conversations or have personality changes.

Middle or moderate stage
While in number one of the dementia stages you might be able to fool people by actions to cover up your dementia, in the moderate stage, you will lose your ability to conceal the problems you are having daily. You will start to forget who people are, even your spouse or children. You might stop using proper hygiene or forget to eat meals.

In the moderate of the dementia stages, you might forget things that happened recently or think that the current year is much different than what it really is. You might think it is 1942 when it is 2009. You could also become easily lost if you venture outdoors. Some people have hallucinations, hearing voices or seeing things which are not really there.


Severe or end-stage dementia

This is the last of the dementia stages and the one that is the worst. You will no longer be able to take care of yourself and most likely will be in a nursing home where you can receive care day and night. People with severe dementia lose their ability to communicate and may stop speaking entirely.

They suffer from uncontrollable movements, incontinence, and lose the ability to walk or move themselves. They do not recognize people, even a spouse or family members. Some people, but not all, become aggressive. They will most likely be totally incapacitated by an illness like the flu or an infection.

The dementia stages can take place over a period of time as short as 2-3 years or as long as 10-20 years. There is no way of knowing at what point a stage may occur or when someone might totally lose control of mind and body. Dementia stages are incredibly hard not only for the person with the disease but for family members and friends as well.