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Understanding Dementia Stages

Know what to expect and provide better care for your loved one.

One of the biggest challenges with Alzheimer’s and dementia is the uncertainty—not knowing what’s going to happen next with your older adult. Dementia has distinct stages that shape treatment and the impact on a person’s health in different ways. By understanding the dementia stages, you will know what to expect to better care for your loved one.

What are the dementia stages?

Health professionals discuss dementia in “stages,” using them to measure how far a person’s dementia or Alzheimer’s has progressed. It helps determine the best treatment approach and helps communication between health providers and caregivers.

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

In this stage, a person functions normally, has no memory loss, and is mentally healthy. People with no dementia would be in Stage 1.

Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Decline

Very Mild Dementia is used to describe normal forgetfulness associated with aging, such as forgetting names or where you left your keys.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline

This stage includes increased forgetfulness, slight difficulty concentrating, and decreased work performance. People may get lost more frequently or have difficulty finding the right words. At this stage, a person’s loved ones will notice a cognitive decline.

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline

Moderate Cognitive Decline includes difficulty concentrating, decreased memory of recent events, and difficulties managing finances. People have trouble completing everyday tasks and may be in denial about their symptoms. They may also start becoming anti-social and be moodier. At this stage, you should consider if an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or treatment may be in order.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

People in this stage have major memory deficiencies and need some assistance to complete their daily living activities such as dressing and bathing. They may not remember their phone number or address. At this point, your abilities will not be enough to care for your loved one and you will need to seek memory care support.

Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline

Severe Cognitive Decline requires extensive assistance to carry out their daily activities. They start to forget names of close family members and have little memory of recent events. Incontinence is a problem in this stage and ability to speak declines. They also experience personality changes, delusions, and compulsions resulting in agitation.

Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline

People in this stage have essentially no ability to speak or communicate. They require assistance with most everyday activities including using the toilet and eating. They often lose the ability to walk.

It’s important to note dementia progresses differently for everyone. Genetics, age, overall health, and the underlying cause of the dementia might play a role in how fast it progresses.

There are many options for dementia care, such as in-home care, adult day care, assisted living, and memory care. Assisted Living Locators care advisors are available to help you find the right care option for your loved one.


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