Stages Of Dementia

The Stages of Dementia

The stages of dementia vary in their duration and severity, but they affect millions of families each year. Most commonly, this disease is found in the elderly, but it impacts their children and other caregivers significantly. Seeing a loved one progress through the irreversible stages of dementia is a heartbreaking thing to have to do. Understanding the disease as well as its causes and treatments will help you better prepare for the road ahead.

Early Stages of Dementia

The early stages of dementia may be hard to spot, especially in an older person. It often manifests as simple forgetfulness. Often people with the very early stages of dementia will have trouble remembering names or dates, forget where they put objects, or find themselves standing in a room without being able to remember why they went into the room in the first place. Because most people have moments like this, it is often considered simple forgetfulness.

As the first stage of dementia progresses, a person may have trouble completing every day tasks that they have done their entire lives, such as cooking, cleaning or driving a vehicle. A person with dementia may also begin saying inappropriate things, or begin inserting incorrect words into their sentences. Family members or coworkers may notice a general lack of judgment, frequent mistakes on the job and difficulty with abstract thinking. Sudden mood swings and increased irritability often occur without any reasonable cause.

Moderate Stages of Dementia

The moderate stages of dementia are generally more noticeable to friends and family.  Often heated debates will occur that involve places and dates. Many suffers of dementia will clearly remember events that happened in the distant past, but their memory’s timeline is out of synch, making these long past events seem like they are part of the present time. For many families, this stage of dementia is the most painful, as lost loved ones are discussed as if they are still alive, or family members are mistaken for other people from the past.

Moderate dementia patients have to be monitored closely, as they have a tendency to wander and get lost. Even if they have lived on the same street for decades, they will often forget how to get back home if they wander off alone. It is common for dementia patients to forget simple hygiene as well as forgetting to eat. Some may experience hallucinations or hear things that no one else in the room can hear. These are confusing and often scary occurrences for a person with dementia, and as a result they may get angry or frustrated and lash out at those they love.

Final Stages of Dementia

The final stages of dementia require hospitalization, or at the very least around the clock care. Many families simply cannot provide the level of care that is required in the final stages, and are encouraged to consider hospitalization. Patients at this severe level of dementia have uncontrolled movements and may strike out at those around them. Recognizing basic objects they had used every day is often a problem, making them feel easily threatened.

Many dementia patients have incontinence, and need help with basic daily tasks such as feeding and dressing themselves. They may be uncoordinated and need help when moving around. Nighttime tends to be worse for these patients, and they often suffer from restlessness or are unable to sleep.

Probably the most heart breaking aspect of the final stages of dementia is the patient’s inability to recognize family members. They often call out for loved ones that are have passed years before.  It is generally recommended that those close to a loved one with the final stages of dementia receive counseling to help them through this process.