The stages of Dementia can be divided into seven categories. 

Healthcare professionals often outline stages of dementia by the severity of the disease. This helps physicians to understand the extremity, helping them define the individual’s needs and determine the appropriate course of action for dementia care.

The most commonly used scale is the Reisberg Scale, known as the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia (GDS Scale). The GDS scale divides seven stages of dementia based on the amount of apparent cognitive decline.

Whether you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with dementia or are looking for more information about the signs and symptoms, this blog article will discuss the seven stages of dementia and highlight what to expect during each stage.

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

During this first stage of dementia, the person will function as normal and will be mentally healthy. The individual will not experience any issues with memory or show any signs of dementia symptoms. 

Stage 2: Very Mild Decline

When the second stage of dementia occurs, the individual may be experiencing minor memory issues. This is difficult to distinguish from normal age-related memory issues – such as forgetting names or misplacing objects. At this stage, dementia symptoms are very rarely spotted by the individual’s loved ones or even their physician.

Stage 3: Mild Decline

As the individual progresses into the third stage of dementia, some symptoms may be noticeable to friends and family members, and a physician would be able to detect any impairment in their cognitive function.

These symptoms could include, but are not limited to:

  • Having difficulty remembering names
  • Frequently losing personal possessions
  • Struggling to find the right word during a conversation
  • Struggling with planning and organisation
  • Unable to concentrate or perform at work

This particulate stage of dementia has an estimated duration of between 2 to 7 years.

Stage 4: Moderate Decline

By the time the individual has reached the fourth stage, they will be experiencing clear-cut dementia symptoms, indicating a moderate decline in their cognitive functionality. During this time, the individual may:

  • Struggle to recall recent events
  • Experience difficulty concentrating
  • Find managing finances difficult
  • Withdraw from family and friends as socialising becomes uncomfortable/difficult for them

The average duration of the fourth stage of dementia is approximately 2 years

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline

When the individual reaches the fifth stage of dementia, they may require assistance to complete daily activities such as bathing, dressing and cooking. The individual may be unable to recall simple personal details – such as their address or phone number, and may show some confusion in knowing where they are and the time of day..

The average duration for this stage of dementia is approximately 1.5 years.

Stage 6: Severe Decline

For those suffering from dementia, by the time they reach the sixth stage, they will require extensive assistance to complete Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). Common ADLs include tasks such as bathing, dressing, feeding themselves, working, homemaking and leisurely activities.

During this stage, the individual will experience:

  • Confusion or inability to take in one’s surroundings and may often wander or get lost
  • Inability to recognize faces, in some cases even those of family and friends
  • Inability to remember personal details (current and previous)
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Personality changes and potential behaviour problems
  • Inability to use the toilet or bathe themselves
  • Inability to complete tasks
  • Inability to communicate verbally
  • Compulsions to repeat behaviours or complete tasks which have already been completed

The average duration of this stage is approximately 2.5 years.

Stage 7: Very Severe Decline

When the seventh and final stage of dementia occurs, the individual will lose their ability to communicate or respond to their environment and will need assistance with all Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). The individual may lose the ability to swallow or speak and use their psychomotor skills, such as the ability to walk. The final stage of dementia is also known as late dementia and occurs when the individual is nearing the end of their life.

The average duration for the final stage of dementia is between 1.5 – 2.5 years.

Although there is currently no cure for dementia, there are many ways to improve the quality of life for those suffering from the disease. From easing their dementia symptoms to creating a bespoke care plan which will allow them to continue to lead a fulfilling life from home. Remaining around familiar surroundings helps boost memory and cognitive function and can help dementia sufferers remain at ease whilst suffering from the disease.