It is most often associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, in the world, there are 50 million diagnosed cases of dementia, with about 10 million new cases each year. It is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among senior citizens in the world, but in its early stages, it can often be managed by a caregiver and her team (such as a specialist and perhaps a home care provider to help around the home).
It is often hereditary so if dementia has affected others in your family, you’ll want to know the seven stages of dementia, so you can take appropriate action to care for your parent when and if they occur.
While a specialist may see images on a scan of possible changes in the brain, your parent will not be exhibiting any cognitive changes at this point.
In this stage, the changes look very much like normal cognitive changes that may occur in your aging parent. It can be simple things like forgetting words or misplacing objects a bit more than normal. For people who don’t interact with your parent on a regular basis, they probably won’t even notice any changes at this point. Usually those who have regular visits with your parent, such as a home care provider or yourself, are the first ones to start to notice a difference in what your parent can remember.
Short-term memory loss becomes more common, where your parent cannot remember the name of someone she just met or she’s struggling with organizing or making plans. This might be the time when your parent first says she no longer wants to have large family meals at her home because they’ve become too overwhelming for her.
In this stage, the cognitive decline starts to really affect her day-to-day life. She might not be able to drive anymore because she easily gets lost. Bills may not get paid on time and she might start to withdraw from events or people she used to enjoy. Most of those who are around your parent can now notice a definite difference.
In stage five, your parent will become much more dependent on people and probably should not be left alone. She might forget her address or phone number. She’ll have problems remembering how to dress each morning. Having a home care provider stop in once a day to check on her will not be enough.
Sadly, at this stage, your parent will begin to forget the names of people she loves or may confuse them. She’ll suffer from confusion and anxiety as the world around her gets less and less familiar.
In the final stage of dementia, your parent will need help in all areas of her day – bathing, eating, and moving from place to place. She’ll struggle for most words and communication becomes almost non-existent or doesn’t make sense.
These seven stages are determined by the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS)’ of primary degenerative dementia. While scary to read through them all, remember not everyone progresses through each stage and the progression timeline can vary greatly from person to person.