The mental decline associated with dementia does not happen all at once; it goes through seven distinct clinical stages. Understanding these different levels can help people recognize signs and symptoms early on. Additionally, persons with dementia, along with their families, will know what to anticipate as the condition progresses. Families often report that communication becomes difficult as a loved one forgets them.
In stage four, your loved one with dementia may confuse you with another family member.
Persons with dementia may forget the names of their family members in stage five onward.
Although your loved one does not remember who you are, you may still be able to enjoy each other’s company.
Stages of dementia
Typically, in the first three stages of dementia, your loved one will remember family members. At the beginning of dementia development, a person typically has no memory issues or cognitive decline. This is known as stage one and is sometimes referred to as “pre-dementia.” During stage two, occasional forgetfulness such as misplacing objects or forgetting names occurs. While this can be attributed to normal age-related changes in cognition, it could also signify early signs of degenerative dementia.
In stage three, clear cognitive issues start to appear. For instance, getting lost easily, performing poorly at work, having trouble remembering information read in books or passages, misplacing essential items, struggling with concentration, and mild-to-moderate anxiety as these problems interfere with daily life. Some individuals may have difficulty remembering the names of family members at this stage.
From stage one to three, those experiencing symptoms of dementia should have a consultation with a medical professional early on for an accurate diagnosis. This will help families plan for future care while their loved one with dementia recognizes them and can be involved in a care plan.
In the fourth stage, individuals may become socially isolated and display changes in their personalities and mood. Families report symptoms such as not being aware of current or recent events, forgetting personal history facts, struggling to manage finances or plan trips, confusion when it comes to recognizing people and faces, as well as difficulty navigating unfamiliar locations.
From stage five onward, persons with dementia may start forgetting their family members and close friends. Those in stage five of moderate dementia will require some assistance with their day-to-day lives. The main symptom of this level of dementia is the inability to remember important details such as close family members’ names and home addresses. Furthermore, patients may forget basic information regarding themselves like a phone number or address. At this point, patients are still able to attend to essential tasks such as using the restroom or eating without help.
At stage six of dementia, it is common to forget the names of family members. During stage six, they may display delusional behavior, become obsessive or anxious, and demonstrate aggression or agitation. Caregivers should be aware of these signs to provide the best care possible.
In stage seven, hallucinations may be present in the most extreme case of dementia. Along with motor skills, the person’s ability to communicate may also diminish over time. In the final stages, likely that they require help from family members or caregivers for basic activities like walking and eating.