The Stages of Dementia

September 30, 2019 | BY PHS Staff

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and tends to progress slowly through three general stages: mild, moderate and severe. It’s important to note that Alzheimer’s affects people in different ways, with the timing and severity of dementia symptoms varying as each person progresses through each stage. Memory care in Gettysburg PA can help families transition through each stage.

Disease Progression

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will worsen over time, but the rate at which they progress will vary by person. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s can live four to eight years after initial diagnosis, but may live as long as 20 years, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Changes in the brain, as they relate to Alzheimer’s, typically start many years before any signs of the disease make themselves known. This time period is referred to as preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, and it can last for years. Here, we will go into the three stages of dementia and how you can cope with each one. Note: dementia is a general term used to describe the symptoms of mental decline that are part of Alzheimer’s and other similar brain diseases.

Early Stage: Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

In these early stages, a person may function independently, still driving, working and engaging in social activities. However, the person may also be having memory lapses, such as forgetting the words for things or frequently misplacing everyday objects. Friends and family may start to notice these difficulties, possibly suggesting a visit to the doctor. It’s important to be supportive and approach the conversation with tact.

Doctors may be able to detect problems pertaining to concentration or memory. The person may have difficulty:

  • Finding the right word or name
  • Recalling names when introduced to new people
  • Performing tasks in work or social settings
  • Remembering material that was just read
  • Finding valuable objects
  • Planning or organizing

Middle Stage: Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

Moderate Alzheimer’s is usually the longest stage, lasting for many years. As it progresses, the person with dementia will need an increasingly higher level of care. Symptoms become more pronounced, characterized by a greater difficulty performing tasks like paying bills or grocery shopping, although they can still recall important details about their life. Family and friends can help by delegating household tasks.

During this stage, symptoms are noticeable by others and include:

  • Forgetfulness of events or about personal history
  • Feeling moody or withdrawn, particularly in social situations
  • Inability to recall their own address or telephone number
  • Confusion about the day of the week or where they are at the moment
  • Require help choosing season- or occasion-appropriate clothing
  • Inability to control bladder and bowels
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Tendency to wander or become lost
  • Personality and behavioral changes, including compulsive, repetitive behaviors, delusions or becoming increasingly suspicious

Do your best to set up a reliable daily routine with small rituals, advises Dementia. Predictability is calming to someone with Alzheimer’s, which can help them feel more relaxed.

Late Stage: Severe Alzheimer’s Disease

This is when symptoms become the most severe, as the person loses the ability to respond to the environment, carry on a conversation and even to control movement. Big personality changes are taking place and individuals need almost total help with daily activities. Individuals may:

  • Require round-the-clock assistance with personal care and daily activities
  • Lose awareness of recent experiences and surroundings
  • Have an inability to walk, sit and even swallow
  • Have difficulty communicating
  • Become vulnerable to infections like pneumonia

It’s wise for the family to hire in-home dementia care services. Not only can such professionals help the family cope with such transitions, they can also manage behavior challenges, create a calm and safe atmosphere, prevent wandering and lead individuals in memory-enhancing activities.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

To learn more about our dementia care services, please contact us at 866-943-9791.