How Long Do the 7 Stages of Dementia Last? Unveiling the Timeline of Cognitive Decline
If you suspect that you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, the journey ahead of you can feel overwhelming. But being educated on what’s to come can help you prepare to handle this next stage of life.
Understanding Dementia and Its Progression
Dementia isn’t a condition that becomes apparent overnight. Most often, the symptoms and signs show up slowly over a period of weeks, months or even years. And the condition changes a lot with time, which is why dementia is typically looked at through stages.
Types of Dementia
Whether your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia or frontotemporal degeneration, they’ll likely progress through seven stages of dementia. Understanding each of these stages can help you understand what’s currently happening and what’s to come.
The Importance of Early Diagnosis
An early diagnosis is important for any serious condition, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It allows for:
- The patient to make future-looking plans, such as around their caretaking preferences, financial situation and will, while they still have full mental capacity to do so
- Both the patient and their family to educate themselves and learn about the condition
- The patient to start engaging in early drug and non-drug therapies to hopefully slow down the onset of the condition
The 7 Stages of Dementia: A Comprehensive Overview
How long do the 7 stages of dementia last? Let’s take a closer look.
Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline
The first stage is all the time in a person’s life before they show any signs of dementia. They act, think and behave without any signs of memory loss or cognitive issues. There’s no known time line for this stage, but it can help to know that most people show early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in their mid-60s.
It’s important to note that people who never develop dementia are considered to remain in this stage for their entire lives.
Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Decline
The second dementia stage comes with such mild signs that they’re rarely noticed by the patient’s loved ones or doctors. The person may forget names and places and misplace familiar objects, but it’s perceived as everyday forgetfulness and nothing to be concerned about. It’s unknown how long this stage lasts.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline
This dementia stage typically lasts between 2 and 7 years. This is when loved ones begin to notice and suspect something might be wrong. It’s often referred to as early-stage dementia. Some common signs here are memory loss such as difficulties finding the right words, often getting lost, having trouble concentrating and a worsening performance at work.
Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline
Stage four of the dementia journey, also known as middle-stage dementia, typically lasts 2 years. At this point, a physician is able to see the signs of cognitive decline. The patient will forget recent events, have difficulties managing their finances and schedule, be unable to travel to new places alone and not be able to complete everyday tasks. Despite all these signs, the individual is usually in denial about their symptoms at this point.
Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline
The average length of the moderately severe cognitive decline stage is 1.5 years. During this time, the patient is experiencing major memory deficiencies. They can’t function independently and need help with basic tasks like dressing, grooming and bathing. They often don’t know the time, the date or where they are.
Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline
The average length of stage six is 2.5 years. With this stage comes difficulties with recognizing family members, remembering major life events and forgetting recent events. The patient will have trouble counting down from 10 and may have difficulty speaking. This stage may come with personality and behavioral changes, including anxiety, compulsions, depression and delusions.
Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Decline
The last stage may last between 1.5 and 2.5 years for most. Stage seven may also be called late-stage dementia or severe dementia. In this stage, the person can’t function independently at all. Their dementia symptoms may include being unable to speak or communicate, losing their motor skills, often being unable to walk and needing help with most tasks. This stage is incredibly challenging for both the patient and their loved ones.
Factors Affecting Dementia Progression
While most patients with dementia go through these seven stages, the speed of that progress can vary greatly from patient to patient. Some factors that can impact a patient’s progression through their disease are:
- Excessive drinking
- Exposure to high amounts of air pollution
- Social isolation
- Less job complexity (someone who isn’t mentally stimulated and challenged frequently)
- Preexisting health conditions such as depression, traumatic brain injuries, hearing loss and cardiovascular factors
Cedar Creek: A Comprehensive Dementia Care Solution
At some point, a person going through dementia is going to need around-the-clock support and care. Most family members simply don’t have the time and resources to provide this care. Our memory care homes can provide the support, supervision and stimulation patients with dementia need, including:
Personalized Care Plans
We know our residents are more than just a number; they’re unique individuals with specific needs, goals and desires. That’s why we believe in providing every resident with a personalized care plan. We create a partnership with every resident so they feel supported and cared for.
Life Enrichment Programs
A person living with dementia can still have a rich, fulfilling life. We take pride in providing life enrichment programs that keep our patients happy, thriving and engaged. Most importantly, these programs are mentally stimulating to help slow the onset of dementia symptoms.
Cedar Creek prides itself in keeping a high staff-to-resident ratio that allows your loved one to get the care and attention they deserve.
Discover Cedar Creek: Elevating Dementia Care With Personalized Support and Expertise
Don’t put off finding the right dementia care facility. Getting your loved one into a center early lets them get comfortable and become part of a community sooner. Schedule a tour today to see our space for yourself. We know you’ll love what you see.