What are the various stages of dementia?
Various types of dementia, such as vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and frontotemporal dementia are progressive diseases, which means the symptoms worsen over time as the problem moves from one stage to another. Assessment tools used for determining the stage of dementia that’s experienced by the patient serve as a guide as well as a rough outline regarding what caregivers can expect and when. Early onset dementia symptoms are present in some individuals while others exhibit late stage dementia symptoms. Some symptoms seem to appear and then go away, while others grow worse over time. According to the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia (GDS) or the Reisberg Scale, there are seven stages of dementia correlating with four specific categories – no dementia, mild dementia, moderate dementia, and end stage dementia. Stage 1 to 3 is no dementia. In the first stage, the person functions normally and is mentally healthy. From stage 2, the person starts experiencing some cognitive decline. Forgetfulness occurs that is sometimes attributed to ageing. Stage 3 involves mild cognitive decline. Signs and symptoms include reduced work performance, difficulty focusing on daily tasks, speech problems, and increased forgetfulness. Stage 4 is early stage dementia when moderate cognitive decline takes place. The stage usually lasts for two years and medical examinations and interviews are required to detect cognitive problems. Patients misplace items at this stage, they are unwilling to try new things, they struggle to find the right words during a conversation, and forget recent events. Irritability, depression, or anxiety is also noticed along with greater problems with organizing and remembering names. Stages 5 to 6 is mid-stage dementia, where the person experiences moderately severe to severe cognitive decline. Stage 5 lasts 4 years on average and the patient requires assistance to complete everyday activities. In Stage 6, the patient begins to forget the names of loved ones and cannot recollect recent events. Communication is hampered and compulsions and delusions are common. Late-stage dementia or Stage 7 is the final stage that lasts 2.5 years on average and is marked by very severe cognitive decline. Patients cannot communicate or speak and require assistance with most tasks, including walking.