There are seven different stages of dementia. Not everybody will suffer from a very severe decline, but it is important that we are able to recognize the signs and symptoms that come with this condition. 

In this article, we will discuss the seven different stages of dementia. We will also mention the different condition types, some causes, and the various treatments that can be used. 

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a term that medical professionals use to describe different symptoms that lead to a decreased mental ability. The condition is a result of other underlying brain disorders and diseases.

In other words, dementia is not a separate disease. It describes various symptoms, including memory loss, forgetfulness, communication problems, and personality changes.

How Common Is Dementia?

Dementia mainly affects older people. With that being said, the condition does not affect everybody, and it is not a normal part of growing old.

In 2019, statistics showed that around 50 million people were living with dementia worldwide. There are also about 10 million new cases every year.

After you reach the age of 65, your chances of developing dementia double every five years. Estimates suggest that every one in fourteen people over the age of 65 has this condition. More so, one in every six people over the age of 80 has dementia.

How Severe Is Dementia?

The severity of your dementia depends on the type and stage that it.

The rate at which the condition progresses varies between different people. Underlying causes of dementia include the person’s age and overall health.

Over time, dementia can progress and become very severe. If you are in the seventh stage, you may not even be able to recognize your own family members.

The Seven Stages Of Dementia

Here are the seven stages of dementia used for diagnosis and treatment.

Normal Behaviour

This is the earliest stage of dementia. You may experience no symptoms, even though changes could already be occurring in your brain. These changes may happen many years before you show signs of the condition.

Forgetfulness

You may begin to forget small things, such as where you put your glasses or why you walked into a room. However, it is very difficult to distinguish between the second stage of dementia and normal age-related memory loss.

Mild Decline

The third stage can last for up to seven years. If you suspect that a family member is suffering from dementia, you will begin to notice some signs of mild decline. For example, they could frequently be losing their keys or forgetting to show up to appointments.

Moderate Decline

If you think that someone that you know has dementia, you will definitely notice it in these later stages; the symptoms and changes to their personality will become much more distinguishable.

This stage usually lasts about two years. People begin to forget bigger chunks of information, such as what they had for breakfast. If you visit the doctor at this stage, you will undergo an MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination) and most likely be diagnosed with dementia.

Moderately Severe Decline

During this stage, which lasts about one and a half years, people begin needing help with everyday activities, such as dressing. They may also forget facts about themselves, such as where they live or their cellphone number.

However, patients usually still remember family and friends. They can even recall memories of their childhood with great clarity.

Severe Decline

Patients begin needing constant supervision. They may need help washing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. You will also begin to notice changes in their personalities; some become angry or aggressive, which makes it difficult for family and friends.

This stage lasts about two and a half years. Patients are likely to still remember family and friends, which can be very comforting for them.

Very Severe Decline

Not many people reach the final stage of dementia; they often pass away from other health conditions before they reach a very severe decline.

Patients will begin to suffer from a loss of speech. They will require twenty-four-hour care and be unable to do many activities on their own. In this stage, people will begin to forget the faces of their loved ones.

Most Common Symptoms Within The Seven Stages

Different symptoms appear in different stages. However, the most common symptoms that are often related to dementia include:

●      Recent memory loss

●      Communication problems

●      Mood changes

●      Loss of initiative (losing interest in starting new tasks or challenges)

●      Misplacing things

●      Personality or behavior changes

●      Difficulty completing familiar tasks

●      Disorientation

Types Of Dementia

There are five different types of dementia:

Alzheimer’s disease

This disease is distinguishable by the ‘plaques’ between the dying brain cells, caused by protein abnormalities. Alzheimer’s causes a person’s brain tissue to lose nerve cells and connections; this ultimately leads to the total brain size shrinking.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies is linked to abnormal structures within the brain and is caused by a specific type of protein. It is a neurodegenerative disorder and the second-most common cause of dementia.

Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia includes a diagnosis of multiple types of dementia.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is also distinguished by Lewy bodies. It is often considered a movement condition, but it can also cause dementia-like symptoms.

Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease involves specific types of uncontrolled movements. However, it can also include dementia.

Disorders Leading To Symptoms Of Dementia

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal Dementia, or Pick’s disease, is a term used to describe a group of disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These lobes are associated with personality, language, and behavior. 

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus occurs when an unsafe amount of cerebrospinal fluid is stored in the brain. It leads to the ventricles of the brain becoming enlarged.

Posterior cortical atrophy

Posterior cortical atrophy resembles the changes that occur in Alzheimer’s, but it affects a different part of the brain.

Down syndrome

Down syndrome increases your chances of developing dementia at a young age. The condition is associated with physical growth delays and intellectual disability.

Causes Of Dementia

There are many causes of dementia. For example, some people develop dementia from cognitive impairment related to other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Others can develop the condition following vascular cognitive impairment, which may be caused by a stroke. Brain damage can also lead to dementia.

However, injury or disease is always responsible for the destruction of brain cells, which ultimately leads to dementia.

Common causes of the disorder include:

●      Alzheimer’s disease

●      Vascular cognitive impairment

●      HIV

●      Parkinson’s disease

●      Huntington’s disease

●      Traumatic brain injury

●      Dementia with Lewy bodies

●      Frontotemporal Dementia

Treatments For Dementia

It is important to note that damaged brain cells can not be treated. In other words, there is no cure that can reverse the damage caused by Dementia.  

However, there are methods that are used to treat symptoms of Dementia-causing diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Additionally, if the dementia is due to a non-degenerative cause, such as injury or vitamin deficiency, treatment may be used to prevent further brain tissue damage. 

These treatments include four cholinesterase inhibitors:

●      Donepezil

●      Galantamine

●      Rivastigmine

●      Tacrine 

The cholinesterase inhibitors also help reduce the behavioral problems caused by Parkinson’s disease. Another drug, called Memantine, is also sometimes used in combination with one of the four cholinesterase inhibitors.

Prevention Of Dementia

Certain behaviors, activities, and diseases are known to increase your risk of developing dementia. These include: 

●      Smoking

●      Alcohol abuse

●      Atherosclerosis

●      High cholesterol

●      High levels of homocysteine in the blood

●      Diabetes

●      Mild cognitive impairment

This condition is very hard to prevent as the cause is often only discovered once it is too late. This being said, there are a few ways in which you could improve your overall health and reduce your risk:

●      Stop smoking

●      Stay at a healthy weight

●      Exercise frequently

●      Eat healthy foods

●      Manage health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol

●      Keep your mind busy by doing puzzles, reading or learning new hobbies

●      Stay socially active

Diagnosing Dementia

To be diagnosed with dementia, you have to have your memory and cognitive health tested. This involves being asked to do certain tasks and answer standard questions.

You then have to undergo a cognitive Dementia test.

The Cognitive Dementia Test

You will be asked ten very easy questions, including:

●      What is your name?

●      How old are you?

●      What is the year?

Each correct answer scores you one point. If you score six or less, you have cognitive impairment.

The second part of the test involves somebody close to the patient. They are asked questions relating to the person’s behavior, personality, and memory. This is to find out whether or not the patient is undergoing mood changes and becoming more forgetful.

The patient will then undergo an MMSE test. This measures their orientation to time and place, word recall, language abilities, attention span, and visuospatial skills.

Conclusion

Dementia is a term used to describe a group of thinking and social symptoms that interfere with basic functioning. It can be caused by a variety of things, including vascular cognitive impairment, traumatic brain injury, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

There are seven stages of dementia. These stages are normal behavior, forgetfulness, mild decline, moderate decline, moderately severe decline, severe decline, and very severe decline.

There are also different types of Dementia: Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies, mixed Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Three disorders that can lead to the development of dementia include normal pressure hydrocephalus, posterior cortical atrophy, and down syndrome.

There are methods used to treat Dementia-causing diseases. These treatments include Donepezil, Galantamine, Rivastigmine, and Tacrine. Even though we have very little control over the disorder, you can reduce your risk of developing dementia by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing your health problems.