How many stages of Dementia are there?

There are several different types of Dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. When it comes to the different stages of Dementia, we can typically categorise the trajectory of the disease as mild, moderate or severe.

Although this three stage model is useful for providing an overview of early, middle and final stages of Dementia, most people prefer a seven stage model that breaks cognitive decline down into seven specific categories. Knowing where a loved one falls on this scale can help to identify signs and symptoms, whilst also determining the most appropriate care plan. So, what are the seven stages of Dementia?

The seven stages of Dementia

Living with and understanding Dementia can be difficult. Here we offer a more clearly defined picture of the whole Dementia journey. What are the early signs and symptoms of Dementia to look out for in a loved one? And if you do spot these signals of Dementia, what actions can you take?

  1. Normal Behaviour
    No symptoms, though changes in the brain might already be occurring – these can happen several years before any Dementia signs or symptoms emerge.
  2. Forgetfulness
    A person living with Dementia might forget things easily and constantly lose things around the house, although not to the point where the memory loss can easily be distinguished from normal age-related memory.
  3. Mild Decline
    You may begin to notice subtle changes and signs that something ‘isn’t quite right.’ They might be frequently losing their purse, or keys or forgetting appointments. This stage can last up to seven years.
  4. Moderate Decline
    This is where understanding Dementia signs and symptoms become clearer to everyone. They find it difficult to manage money or pay bills, or remember what they had for breakfast. If they visit their doctor at this point, and undergo a Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) it’s likely that they will be diagnosed with Dementia. The average length of this stage is around two years.
  5. Moderately Severe Decline
    They may need more help with day-to-day living during this stage. Whilst they can probably still take care of other personal needs on their own (such as using the toilet), they could find it difficult to dress appropriately or be unable to remember simple facts about themselves, such as their address or phone number. However, they usually recognise family and friends and can recall events from years ago (especially their childhood) with great clarity. On average this stage can last around 1.5 years.
  6.  Severe Decline
    When it comes to the final stages of Dementia, constant supervision is needed at home. They may need help with washing and dressing and may also become incontinent. You could notice changes in their personality and behaviour – such as anger and aggression – which can be upsetting and difficult to cope with. However, although they might be very confused, they often still know and recognise the people closest to them – which can be some comfort. Experts believe this stage can last, on average 2.5 years.
  7. Very Severe Decline
    Many people  pass away before they reach this final stage of Dementia, often as a result of other health conditions. At this stage, they’ll experience severe loss of speech, need assistance with day- to- day living, feeding, need round-the-clock care and the support of professional carers (if they haven’t already got this).

Part of understanding Dementia is remembering that the person living with Dementia no longer really understands what’s happening.

If some of this sounds like the behaviour of a relative and you’re looking for some support, get in touch with our team today. We’re more than happy to listen and talk things through with you and see how our visiting and live-in care services could make life easier for you and your loved one.