Guide to the 7 Stages of Dementia: How Fast Does Dementia Progress?

While each person with dementia is different, the seven stages of dementia often follow a similar course as dementia is a degenerative disorder that becomes worse over time Every stage of dementia has unexpected symptoms as well as worsenings of pre-existing symptoms.

When it's time to reevaluate your family member's care needs, you'll be able to tell by knowing what to watch for during the stages of dementia. Continue reading to pick up how to recognize early dementia early indications alongside the standard middle- and late-stage symptoms associated with dementia.

Dementia in Singapore

The Ministry of Health and the Health Promotion Board in Singapore among other community health organizations predicted that 53,000 of the entire population might likely develop dementia as of the current year, and that number is projected to go up to 187,000 by 2050. Dementia, essentially, influences 5.2 per cent of Singaporeans aged 60 years and above but thankfully, the Singapore government considers these worrying figures seriously and has implemented several care programs for dementia patients across the entire nation.

How Is Dementia Diagnosed?

Healthcare providers employ a variety of medical evaluations rather than a single test to determine whether a patient has dementia. Additionally, dementia cannot be identified as a single illness but rather is typically divided into several categories according to the underlying cause and into stages according to their degree of severity.

Neuropsychological and Cognitive Tests

A person's mental processes, speech, reasoning, and neuropsychological abilities, as well as their orientation, are evaluated with these tests. In general, the link between the cognitive system and behaviour is examined in neuropsychology along with how your brain health influences your behaviour and cognitive abilities. Individuals who have begun to show symptoms of their cognitive abilities are the best prospects for these kinds of assessments.

Brain Scans

Brain scans may detect strokes and tumours, two conditions that are among the root causes of dementia in addition to recognizing changes in the structure and operation of the brain. Cross-sectional pictures of the brain along with other parts of the body are produced using CT scans, which employ computers and revolving X-ray equipment.

Contrarily, positron emission tomography, often known as a PET scan, is a type of imaging test that employs radiation to create images of one's brain function. These images may be used by physicians to determine how well the brain is working. Additionally, MRI scans, also known as magnetic resonance imaging, are a painless method that employs powerful radio waves and magnetic fields to produce precise pictures of the brain and other bodily structures.

Genetic Testing

Dementia may remain inherited through gene deficiencies even though it has a very infrequent aetiology. To determine whether a person is at hazards of dementia in certain situations, genetic testing will be done. Also, a genetic test could be suggested if you have any close relatives who now have dementia or in the past. The adoption of a healthy lifestyle is linked to a decreased chance of dementia, even though your hereditary risk may be high.

Laboratory Testing

The results of lab testing may be used to search for dementia-causing medical issues during a physical checkup. These procedures, which enable physicians to analyze the levels of different substances, vitamins, and hormones, as well as blood tests, thyroid hormone assessments, and spinal punctures, can screen out other potential causes of symptoms similar to those of dementia.

Psychiatric Assessments

In general, this approach is primarily recognized to be used for detecting mental health illnesses, but it is being employed to diagnose any issues with memory, habits, and thinking processes, which indicates that it may be helpful for those with dementia. Also, such disease also more likely to affect persons with mental health issues, consequently it's critical that these psychiatric illnesses are diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

The 7 Stages of Dementia

When health experts speak about the course of an individual's dementia or Alzheimer's disease, they are often referring to the phases of dementia. By facilitating exchange between physicians and caregivers for dementia care in Singapore, standards that specify the stages assist medical professionals in deciding on the appropriate treatment measures.

Stage 1. No Cognitive Impairment

Stage 1 dementia frequently seems to be normal cognitive ability lacking any cognitive deterioration, despite the weird-sounding description. Typically, a person in stages 1, 2, and 3 of dementia doesn't have sufficient warning signs to be diagnosed. It is therefore crucial to remember that the brain is still changing, though.

Stage 2. Very Mild Cognitive Decline

Stage 2 dementia frequently appears as age-associated memory impairment since it comprises minor memory problems and a large proportion of the elderly population develops age-related forgetfulness. Caregivers or even other healthcare professionals may not be aware of such mild impairment. Losing memory of familiar items or having trouble remembering the names of those around them are two of its key symptoms.

Stage 3. Mild Cognitive Decline

One is considered to have moderate cognitive decline whenever memory and cognitive issues start to occur more frequently and is noticed by family members and caregivers. Stage 3 dementia, however, often has little to no influence on daily functioning.

Its signs of dementia might include forgetting to show up for appointments or activities, misplacing items, exhibiting mild memory loss, getting lost, exhibiting verbal repetition, exhibiting poor work performance, and having issues focusing and organizing, as well as having difficulties with complicated tasks and problem-solving. It's critical to detect the symptoms of Stage 3 and get medical attention since it frequently comes before more severe stages.

Stage 4. Moderate Cognitive Decline

When an individual is in stage 4 dementia, they have severe personality changes in addition to apparent, outward indications of cognitive deterioration. Usually, dementia does not receive a diagnosis in a person until stage 4 or later and is officially categorized as mild dementia.

At this point, physicians and caregivers will probably see the defining characteristics of dementia worsening, such as speech problems and diminished problem-solving abilities. Additionally, symptoms may include denial of illness, emotional irritability, absence of responsiveness, social isolation, and emotional problems.

Stage 5. Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

In the 7 stages of dementia, this stage denotes the beginning of what many experts refer to as the middle stage. At this stage, an individual was unable to be able to do essential daily tasks, like getting dressed or taking a shower, without help from a caregiver in an old age home in Singapore. Although each dementia patient may advance at a different rate, middle-stage dementia typically lasts anywhere from two to four years.

Also, your elderly loved one will probably need more intensive care and supervision in a senior group home if they are in stage 5 dementia. They are also aware of important details about themselves at this point, like their name and the names of their children. Additionally, this is the stage when they start to roam, become confused and forgetful, become disoriented, and develop sundown syndrome.

Stage 6. Severe Cognitive Decline

When dementia reaches stage 6, basic daily tasks including eating, using the restroom, and other self-care require assistance from a caregiver. Seniors who are going through this stage of fairly severe dementia may struggle to control their sleep, engage with others, or act properly in public. Aside from that, they also have personality changes, an inability to identify family members and caretakers, increased anger and anxiety, and sleep problems.

As symptoms worsen in stage 6 of dementia, you might start to consider if full-time care is required. By keeping note of symptoms, keeping tabs on their senior loved one's capacity to complete ADLs and IADLs, and researching care choices including memory care here, families may stay prepared.

Stage 7. Very Severe Cognitive Decline

When dementia reaches stage 7, which is regarded as the final stage, people are unable to take care of themselves. Elderly folks with severe dementia typically lose all verbal skills and experience severe mobility impairment. Late-onset dementia symptoms impair basic physical processes including chewing, swallowing, and breathing. Additionally, they could not be able to communicate, have poor motor coordination, and be unable to move on their own.

3 Different Scales on the 7 Stages

Global Deterioration Scale or Reisberg Scale

The most widely used scale frequently gets referred to as the Reisberg Scale or the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS), depending on the context. The GDS classifies cognitive decline into seven phases and is particularly useful for patients with Alzheimer's disease because certain other kinds of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, may not usually entail memory loss. Patients in stages 1-3 often don't show sufficient indicators for a primary degenerative dementia diagnosis, and when a dementia patient receives a diagnosis, they are typically in stage 4 or above of the dementia stages.

Functional Assessment Staging Test

An additional scale for describing the phases of dementia is the Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST). It is primarily a seven-stage approach, similar to the GDS Scale, that places more emphasis on the patient's functional ability and capacity for daily living tasks than on cognitive deterioration. Additionally, a patient's cognitive stage in the GDS stage and functional stage in the FAST stage can vary at distinct stages.

Clinical Dementia Rating

The Clinical Dementia Rating, or CDR, scale assigns a person a score out of five depending on their cognitive capacity and overall functioning. This scale is frequently employed in dementia studies but not for patient, caregiver, and healthcare provider communication. The six domains of memory, orientation, reasoning and problem-solving, involvement in the community, domestic affairs and interests, and personal care are all assessed in this method for people with probable dementia.

How Fast Does Dementia Progress?

It is impossible to predict how long it requires an ageing loved one to go through every stage of dementia naturally. Even though the disease worsens with time, some patients can maintain their independence for years while still in the early stages of dementia. Others, meanwhile, display dementia signs quickly, necessitating more prompt care and treatments for dementia.

Duration of Stages

Mild Dementia

At the outset of dementia, a person can still drive and frequently retains their ability to act somewhat independently. Small memory lapses, difficulties planning and organizing, and difficulty concentrating on activities or completing them may be symptoms that can be related to the natural ageing process. The early stages of dementia often endure for two to four years.

Moderate Dementia

Brain impairment makes it difficult for a person to communicate their views and carry out everyday duties during the middle stage of dementia, which is frequently the longest period of the disease. Compared to the earlier stage, memory problems are more severe. The person may get disoriented, unable to follow discussions, and unable to comprehend what others are trying to convey. Aggression, sleep issues, mood swings, paranoia, wandering, and incontinence can develop and endure, on average, between two and ten years.

Severe Dementia

People with severe dementia, commonly referred to as late-stage dementia, frequently struggle to communicate effectively. Patients may not be able to vocally speak, experience memory loss, have trouble walking, and require significant assistance with basic daily tasks like eating and using the restroom. Such a  severe stage of dementia endures between one and three years, by which time the person will probably be bedridden.

Care Options for Your Loved Ones with Dementia

Following a dementia diagnosis, a person may not need care support, but as the illness worsens and the symptoms get worse, this will alter. Although many family carers also employ support, they nevertheless provide daily assistance to their loved ones. Alternatives for care and financial support abound and include in-home care, daycare for older adults, and nursing facility care.

Early Stage Dementia
An individual with dementia can operate quite independently and needs little care support in the early stages of dementia, however, safety ought to always be taken into account. Caregivers may also aid with coping skills to support elderly loved ones in maintaining as much independence as possible. If any domestic duties cannot be safely completed alone, support and supervision should be given. It could be beneficial to family members and caregivers to have future conversations while the dementia patient is still in the early stages. For instance, a long-term care plan ought to be created, and arrangements should be made for money and legal issues.

Middle Stage Dementia

Patients in the intermediate stage of dementia begin to lose their independence, and help is typically needed with everyday chores. Caregiver patience is required, and it becomes vital to establish a routine. Because people with this stage of dementia have more difficulties speaking, caregivers must speak slowly, and carefully, and utilize nonverbal cues. Additionally, care is required at this stage since leaving your elderly loved one alone is risky.

Late Stage Dementia

Unquestionably, a senior in this stage of dementia needs a lot of care, and supervision and help are needed around the clock. Patients with dementia may need assistance moving in and out of bed or to a chair, or could be bedridden and need aid shifting positions to prevent bedsores. The elderly patient will eventually become wholly reliant on their caregiver and lose the ability to perform any everyday tasks on their own. There are indeed alternative care options, including employing a part-time caregiver or placing your seniors in a nursing facility, and not every household can provide this level of care.

It could be time to seek expert assistance if you start to observe any unexpected changes in your senior loved one's behaviour. Families of those suffering from dementia in Singapore may want to consider elderly daycare facilities or memory care homes, where the emphasis is on fostering an encouraging atmosphere where seniors can receive the support they require. If you would rather get treatment in a more private setting, you may also do it at home. Fortunately, there are three easy actions you can take to get dementia care help at home at any stage of the disease with Red Crowns.

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