Stages of Dementia

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Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that include memory problems, cognitive dysfunction, and behavior issues. These symptoms might be associated with age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, but they may also stem from other issues that can include different disorders of brain injuries. Some diseases progress over time, and there may be different stages of Dementia.

What are the stages of dementia?

You might associate dementia with old age, but some memory loss is normal as people age. A little bit of absent-mindedness is not a clear indicator of serious symptoms of a brain disease, disorder, or injury. On the other hand, some of the early stages of dementia might be dismissed as age-related forgetfulness, so it is important to get a doctor involved as early as possible.

The five stages of dementia are part of something that is called the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR). This rating system focuses upon the following items: Orientation, memory, judgment, home, hobbies, personal care, and community. These will all be evaluated by a doctor.

Dementia stages:

  • Stage 1: CDR-0: No Impairment
  • Stage 2: CDR-.5: Questionable Impairment
  • Stage 3: CDR–1: Mild Impairment
  • Stage 4: CDR–2: Moderate Impairment
  • Stage 5: CDR–3: Severe Impairment

Stage 1: If your doctor diagnoses you or a loved one as Stage 1, that means there is no impairment. This is confusing because people without medical training might believe Stage 1 is the beginning, but it really means there is no impairment. An individual with this score should be able to enjoy functioning independently.

Stage 2: This might be the toughest diagnosis. That is the the point where family members and friends might begin to see very subtle changes. It could mean that this is because an underlying disease, or it could simply be age-related memory loss. Of course, absent-mindedness can occur at any age, and it can also be caused by stress or simply distraction.

Typically, people in Stage 2 can still manage to care for themselves without a lot of extra help. They might be good candidates for independent living facilities that provide some extra conveniences. They should be carefully monitored to ensure that their symptoms do not progress. 

Stage 3: Those with a Stage 3 diagnosis may begin to need extra help because they have trouble functioning independently. They might still be able to take care of themselves, but they need reminders about personal hygiene or assistance with housework.

Clearly, they need to be closely monitored to be certain that they get help to attend to such important tasks as keeping themselves safe, taking medication on time, and traveling to appointments. A home health aid, family supervision, or an assisted living facility might be called for at this point.

Stage 4 and Stage 5: Those with a Stage 4 or 5 diagnosis clearly need supervision by a family member, home health aid, or assisted living facility. At the beginning of Stage 4, individuals might still be well enough to perform chores and activities, but somebody should keep a watchful eye on them. By Stage 5, an individual should be in a supervised situation all of the time. Here at We Know A Place we can help families find suitable full time dementia care facilities for their loved ones.

This is definitely time to consider an assisted living facility because these places are set up to supervise residents and assist them with activities of daily living. You might look for a facility that offers memory care and Alzheimer’s support.

Is progressive dementia treatable?

Again, dementia simply refers to a collection of symptoms. In some cases, progressive dementia can be treated if the underlying disorder can be treated. However, there is no sure way to know without a firm diagnosis of the underlying problem that causes these symptoms. Doctors have a very good record of diagnosing problems. The Mayo Clinic says that physicians can uncover the problem about 90 percent of the time.

Even if the source is a disease with now current cure, like Alzheimer’s, proper treatment can slow down the progression of the different stages of dementia. In any case, it is important to be certain that the person who suffers with these different symptoms has proper care and supervision to protect her health and safety.