What are the Stages of Dementia?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 June 2019
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There are various stages of dementia that affect cognitive abilities and memory loss in different aspects. They generally vary among individuals who develop this condition. Most typically, the first stage is known as early onset dementia or mild dementia. Advanced dementia may be difficult to control.

Dementia management often begins with proper diagnosis. Dementia assessment is typically conducted by a trained professional. There are early warning signs of this progressive condition, which typically strikes elderly individuals. Early memory loss generally occurs at the onset.

The dementia patient may become forgetful and neglect to perform critical tasks in everyday life. Forgetting important dates, names, or anniversaries may often be a tell-tale sign. Patients in the earliest stages of dementia often find they need organizational aids to help them deal with the condition. Scheduling tools and notebooks can be of help to some individuals.

In the next series of stages of dementia symptoms become more evident to the individual's loved ones and friends. In this stage, an ongoing change in personality may occur. Family members may recognize unusual actions or an inability to perform common tasks efficiently. These changes may include actions that are totally out of character.


In this second stage, the dementia patient may not fully absorb instructions and may need them repeated several times. She may become irritable and agitated more frequently, showing frustration over completing tasks that she once mastered easily. The beginning signs of depression may begin to appear.

The final stage of dementia may be severe enough to cause a major degree of dysfunction in the individual. Cognitive abilities, reasoning, and logic may become severely impaired. The patient's thoughts may be irrational and paranoia and distrust may also be an issue. Most often, the patient cannot perform essential everyday activities, such as using the toilet or feeding herself. In advanced stages of dementia, the patient may neglect personal hygiene and appearance.

As a type of therapy for dementia patients in the early to moderately advanced stages, memory lessons or games may help. Some of these activities may be puzzles or card games. Cognitive reasoning quizzes may also be utilized. These may be performed at home or in a therapy session with a trained professional.

Drug therapy may also be prescribed for dementia patients. Some dementia medications have side effects and patients may be at risk for complications. Patients who have heart conditions may not be suitable for certain drugs used for treating symptoms of dementia.


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Post 5

My brother was diagnosed around a year ago with dementia and is now starting to argue and become paranoid. He repeats himself as if it was the first time he became aware of something. He sleeps a lot and is so angry and agitated all the time. When should we consider a skilled nursing facility?

Post 4

I have always heard that brain cells die from oxygen deprivation and a lot of people have sleep apnea, of which many are not diagnosed. I believe that if studies were done, it might be surprising the direct correlation between this and dementia/Alzheimer's.

Post 3

@KoiwiGal - Unfortunately dementia is starting to become fairly common, just because we live longer and longer. We can manage to keep our bodies relatively healthy long past the stage when our brains begin to deteriorate.

What's interesting about that is that the brain seems to be one of the major obstacles in the fight against aging and death in general. If they ever manage to figure out how to stop the brain from deteriorating as we get older, we will be one step closer to being able to increase the human lifespan by a lot.

Post 2

@croydon - It really is a very difficult time. The way that the stages of dementia in elderly people were always explained to me was that the disease often starts with short term memory, which means that the person can't learn anything new and becomes forgetful but still remembers most things.

Then stage two affects a larger amount of memory, sort of like the medium term memory and it's in this period that people tend to drift off or mistake their grandchildren for their children and so forth.

Finally, in the third stage, the whole of the memory begins to be affected, to the point that people might forget simple things, like how to use a fork or how to get dressed.

And all the while their personalities get more and more effected, from outbursts in stage one to basically becoming a completely different person in stage three.

Post 1

My friend's mother is starting to go through this and she told me about the symptoms today. I'd never realized that they progressed like this. I just thought they were like on TV, where a person seems to just suddenly become a different person and then snaps out of it.

I guess, towards the end, the unrealistic bit is the snapping out of it. It's just such a difficult thing to go through, from both sides of it.

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