If you know someone who's been diagnosed with dementia, you may be wondering what the next few days, weeks, or years will look like. While each person living with dementia experiences the illness differently, there are some patterns that can help you prepare for what's to come.
Stage One - Pre-illness
Stage one of the illness begins before any symptoms have manifested, reports the Alzheimer's Association. There are no memory problems, and an interview with a medical professional would not indicate any signs of dementia.
Stage Two - Very mild signs of cognitive decline
Stage two is also difficult to distinguish, in part because many older adults experience changes in memory, but they aren't always indicative of dementia. During this stage, seniors may feel as though they have trouble recalling words or that they frequently lose items.
Stage Three - Signs of decline go from very mild to mild
This stage of the illness may be the time when loved ones first become aware of the problems. While memory lapses are still mild, they now are noticeable to family, friends and co-workers. These can include difficulty performing in a work or social setting, forgetting information soon after it's been learned or losing valuable items, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Stage Four - Moderate cognitive decline
This stage is when medical intervention becomes a necessity. This level of cognitive decline can include forgetting recent events or one's own history, changes in personality including moodiness or being withdrawn, or the inability to do somewhat challenging mental arithmetic. During this stage, a medical interview can help define clear-cut symptoms, the Association reports.
Stage Five - Moderately severe signs of cognitive decline
In stage five, individuals will develop moderately-severe dementia, with symptoms that are hard to miss, according to EveryDayHealth. Confusion about the sequence of events, or difficulty picking out clothing that is appropriate for the season or occasion, are both sings you can expect to see during this stage.
Stage Six - Severe dementia
This stage can be very difficult to cope with. Wandering is common, and some people may suffer from disturbance to their sleep. They often need help with dressing and going to the bathroom, which is why many people choose assisted living for seniors in this stage of the illness.
Stage 7 - Final stage, very severe dementia
During this stage, family members should be prepared for their loved one to lose some or all of their language skills. They may lose their ability to express their emotions verbally or physically, and will need help with simple tasks like eating.