What Are the Early Signs and Different Stages of Dementia?

In a previous article, we looked at what dementia is and how it’s diagnosed. This week, we are going to take a look at the early signs and different stages of dementia. Keep reading to learn what to look out for and what to prepare for if your loved one is diagnosed with this disease.

Early Signs of Dementia

Before we look at the early signs of dementia, it’s important to know that every senior’s diagnosis and progression of stages and symptoms will be different. Each senior’s medical history, current health, genetics, and personality can contribute towards the type of dementia and symptoms they may develop.

Early signs of dementia are often not noticed because the symptoms are subtle. 

Common Symptoms include:

  • Forgetting things
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Losing track of time

Different Stages of Dementia

Stage 1: No Cognitive Impairment

During this stage, your loved one’s mental function is normal. They are not experiencing any symptoms of cognitive impairment.

Stage 2: Extremely Mild Cognitive Decline

For stage 2, the symptoms can vary between normal memory problems or early signs of dementia. Normal memory problems are those that most seniors experience, such as forgetting dates or not being able to remember something as fast as they used to. Early signs of dementia are less noticeable to a senior’s loved ones and doctors. 

Very mild symptoms may include:

  • Not being able to remember certain names or phrases
  • Not being able to remember where they placed important items, such as their phone or keys

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline

Once a senior hits stage 3, this is usually when symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease become more noticeable to loved ones. While these symptoms will not have a significant impact on their daily life, it’s helpful to know what to look out and prepare for:

Mild symptoms may include:

  • Reduced work performance
  • Reduced ability to concentrate and stay organized
  • Repeatedly ask the same questions
  • Struggles with difficult tasks and problem-solving
  • Struggles with driving or becoming lost

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline

By stage 4, this is typically considered early dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms of moderate cognitive decline are now noticeable. It’s recommended that your loved one talk with their doctor about how to manage their symptoms and live the highest quality of life possible.

Moderate symptoms may include:

  • Denial
  • Not responsive
  • Reduced socialization with others
  • Struggles with daily tasks

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

During stage 5, it’s likely that your loved one will need some assistance with routine tasks like dressing or cleaning the house. Depending on their needs, they may choose to receive help at home or to move into a safe, supportive senior community.

Moderately severe symptoms may include: 

  • Being confused
  • Forgetting personal information and current events
  • Decrease in mental sharpness
  • Struggling with problem-solving tasks

Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline

This stage is referred to as middle dementia or moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease. Stage 6 is when your loved ones will most likely require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, eating, or toileting. 

Severe symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Finding it difficult to recognize loved ones
  • Increased feelings of paranoia

Stage 7: Extremely Severe Cognitive Decline

By stage 7, this is considered late-stage dementia or severe Alzheimer’s disease. Your loved one will likely no longer be able to care for themselves. 

Extremely severe symptoms may include:

  • Severe motor impairment
  • Severe communication impairment
  • Reduced or lack of ability to speak or walk

As you can see, there are several stages of dementia with various symptoms. While every senior’s symptoms will vary, it helps to know what to look for and expect. It’s always recommended to talk to your loved one’s health care team about how to help your loved one be more comfortable and receive the care and support they deserve. Contact Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services based in Wilmington, NC today to learn how we can meet your loved one’s specific health goals.