Understanding the Stages and Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia is a term that encompasses a range of conditions that affect the brain. Common symptoms include difficulty remembering, problem-solving, language and judgement impairment.  Dementia isn’t an expected part of aging. According to the World Health Organization about 5-8% of people over the age of 60 have dementia. There is no specific way to prevent dementia, however, early treatments can slow down the progression.

Early Stages of Dementia

Early stages of dementia are easy to overlook as they are usually mild. These may include:

  • Memory difficulties: A person may have trouble with short-term memory and struggle to remember what they ate for breakfast, for example.
  • Difficulty concentrating: This may involve, for instance, being unable to follow a conversation.
  • Disorientation: This might involve confusion about times and locations. For example, a person may forget where they are going or how to get back home.
  • Communication problems: A person may forget common words or substitute words that do not fit the context therefore causing their speech and writing to be impaired.
  • Trouble with spatial awareness: A person may have difficulty judging distances and spaces.
  • Difficulty performing routine tasks: For example, a person may have trouble remembering which clothes to put on first or how to cook a meal.

Middle Stages of Dementia

As this disease progresses the symptoms are more noticeable. They may:

  • become more forgetful
  • not know the way around their own home
  • increased difficulty with communication
  • need more help with caring for themselves
  • demonstrate changes in behavior, such as repeatedly asking the same questions

Late Stages of Dementia

By the late stages, symptoms become more severe and seniors will need full time care. This includes:

  • Increased Memory Problems: A person may not recognize their home or close family members.
  • Increased Communication problems: A person may lose the ability to speak.
  • Behavioral and psychological changes: People may become agitated, depressed, or anxious, and they may even hallucinate.
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Appetite and weight loss: As a result, they may have difficulty eating and swallowing

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