Stages of dementia
Dementia comes in different forms and gets worse over time. At the beginning, signs might not be obvious, but they become stronger over the years. These signs include problems with memory, thinking, talking, and emotions.
You can think of dementia in three stages: early, middle, and late. These stages show how the signs affect a person. However, it is not easy to figure out exactly which stage a person with Alzheimer’s is in because the stages overlap. These stages can still help find the right solutions and support for the person’s current needs.
Early Stage: The first signs are often not very strong and can be hard to notice. In the early stage, many people can still do things on their own but might need some help with daily tasks. It’s important to focus on what the person can still do and not take over everything. In the early stage, common signs include:
- Memory problems
- Trouble planning and thinking
- Problems with talking and understanding
- Getting lost or confused
- Seeing things differently
- Changes in feelings
Middle Stage: As dementia moves to the middle stage, signs become more obvious. The person will need additional help with everyday life and daily tasks. Reminders might be often needed as well as support with things like dressing or cooking. This stage can last a long time, about two to four years, and during this time, signs can get stronger in these ways:
- Problems from the early stage become clearer. It might be tough to recognize family or find the right words.
- Other changes can happen too: being restless, shouting, doing the same action again and again, or following someone around.
Late Stage: In the later stage, dementia has a central impact on a person’s life. The person may need help all the time with eating, washing, and getting dressed. In this stage, signs are very similar no matter what kind of dementia someone has. Most common signs are:
- Memory problems get worse. The person might not recognize loved ones or even themselves in a mirror.
- Talking becomes hard, and they might only use a few words or none at all.
- Changes in mood, emotions and perception are frequent. The person may experience apathy and depression, as well as delusions and hallucinations.
- Sometimes, aggression can happen because the person might feel scared or confused.
- Restlessness is common too. The person might seem like they’re looking for something or someone, even if they’re not sure what it is.