What Are The Different Stages Of Dementia?
Knowing the stages of dementia is crucial. Especially in its earliest stage, dementia can be explained away as normal aging but it is the stage at which intervention can have the greatest impact on quality of life as well as slow the progression of the disease.
Separating Aging From Dementia
As a general rule, cognitive function declines with age. Normal aging includes mental lapses which do not impair the activities of daily living. The easiest definition of dementia is degenerative functioning of the brain to the point of interfering with activities of daily living. Dementia also progresses in such a manner to require a significant amount of care to sustain the patient’s life.
Early Signs Of Dementia
In the earliest stage, dementia comes off as forgetfulness which makes it very difficult to distinguish from normal aging. What separates dementia from aging is when the person’s ability to recover from a lapse is significantly impacted. A person at this stage can become confused, agitated, and display a high level of anxiety in the aftermath of a forgetful moment which is not normal aging. Someone exhibiting early signs of dementia will also be very resistant to change or accept new ideas.
Moving To The Middle Stage
As dementia progresses, the episodes will become more frequent and last longer. A person in the middle stages will also have a difficult time keeping up with daily life and routines. They will forget to eat and forget or mistake people they have known for some time. This stage is also when a patient starts to wander off. At this stage the need for supervision is especially important for the patient’s own safety.
The Final Stage of Dementia
Unfortunately, by the time a patient reaches this stage it is clear they are suffering the debilitating effects of dementia. The progression and destruction of the disease is highly individual and depends on which of the many types of dementia is afflicting the patient. Generally, the disease has now ravaged the memory and unhooked the body’s ability to carry out even automatic functions. Communication and motor skills are also severely affected. Nearly all patients in this stage need a high level of care.
Dementia is a mean disease. The fortunate suffer for just a few years but it is possible for a patient to suffer up to 20 years. The condition is always terminal but the symptoms can be managed with a variety of interventions throughout the course of the disease. However, the earliest stage is the most responsive which is why it is important to understand the signs of dementia.