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The 7 Stages of Dementia

February 7, 2022

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Having a loved one be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be quite a shock. Suddenly you may have to care for a parent — the person you’ve always looked to for support and advice. But it’s important to know you’re not alone. Over 16 million Americans serve as caregivers for their loved ones and have asked themselves questions like: 

“What will my loved one experience as their dementia progresses?” 

“What are the 7 stages of dementia?”

“How long does each stage of dementia last?” 

At Franciscan Ministries, we believe the more you learn about dementia, the better you’ll be able to  care for your loved one.

Understanding the Stages of Dementia

The cognitive decline from dementia doesn’t happen all at once. Rather, it tends to progress through seven different stages that can last years. Understanding these stages may be able to help you react quicker and know when to seek dementia care for your loved one.

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

The first stage of dementia is very mild and your loved one will most likely still be functioning normally. During this stage, your family member may not display any signs of significant memory problems or cognitive decline. This stage is sometimes referred to as one of the “pre-dementia” stages.

Stage 2: Age-Associated Memory Impairment

In the second stage of dementia, your loved one will experience occasional bouts of memory loss. You might notice that your family member sometimes forgets where they placed something or can’t remember the name of a friend or family member. At this early  stage, it may be hard to detect whether your loved one is dealing with normal forgetfulness we all experience from time to time or is exhibiting early signs of dementia. Encouraging them to be evaluated by their doctor can help catch dementia early.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment

It’s in stage 3 that your family member will begin to experience very noticeable cognitive decline. Some signs of stage three include poor performance at work, getting lost easily, difficulty retaining information and difficulty concentrating. If your loved one begins to experience any of these symptoms, they might also show signs of mild anxiety. If you think your family member has reached this stage, it could be beneficial to you both to seek a clinical interview with their doctor.

Stage 4: Mild Dementia

In stage four, it’s likely that your loved one will become socially withdrawn and they may begin to show changes in their personality. Some behavioral changes you might notice include difficulty remembering personal information, a decreased ability to handle finances, difficulty recognizing faces and decreased knowledge of current events. During this stage, you might notice your loved one attempting to hide their symptoms by avoiding challenging situations.

Stage 5: Moderate Dementia

During stage five, your family member will likely begin to need help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). One of the most apparent signs in stage five is your loved one’s inability to remember important details of their life. You might notice that your family member becomes easily disoriented, has trouble making decisions, and frequently forgets personal information.

Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia

An apparent sign that your loved one has reached stage six of dementia is when they begin to forget the names of their children or other close family members. In this stage, your loved one may become unaware of their surroundings and unable to recall recent events. Your loved one might also begin to display delusional and obsessive behavior, and loss of willpower.

Stage 7: Severe Dementia

In this final stage of dementia, as the dementia progresses, your loved one will experience loss of motor skills and might become unable to speak. During this stage, your family member will most likely need help with things like walking, eating, and using the bathroom.

Find Meaningful Memory Care for Your Loved One at Franciscan Ministries

At Franciscan Ministries, we understand that caring for a loved one living with dementia is an emotional, demanding role. That’s why we offer specialized memory care for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

Our memory care community includes specially trained staff, structured and stimulating programming, and a safe, secure environment for your family member. And because every individual diagnosed with dementia will experience it in different ways, our memory care program is designed to provide personalized care that empowers a purposeful life.

Contact us today to learn more about our memory care community and senior living options.