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The Five Stages of Dementia

Posted on: June 12th, 2014 by Eric Hiam in Health Issues And Aged Care

The term ‘Dementia’ is not descriptive of one disease as such, but rather an umbrella term for a variety of symptoms that may accompany or indicate a few different diseases or conditions. Put simply, Dementia covers any disease that causes an inability for the brain to hold old or new information (memory loss) resulting in an inability for the individual to look after themselves and engage fully in the community.

Currently, medical professionals know of over 60 different conditions that are responsible for causing Dementia symptoms.

When an individual has been diagnosed with a form of Dementia the focus often becomes so much so on the persons symptoms that we can neglect their needs.

Dementia puts a great deal of emotional pressure on not just the patient but also the family who are struggling to understand how to help their loved one. It can seem that there is not much that can be done, which makes it very hard to maintain a positive attitude.

However, if you shift your focus and energy to the person’s strengths and remaining abilities you will be encouraged by their strength and perseverance.

‘Progressive Dementia’ is the most common type of Dementia. It causes the individuals memory to gradually become lost. Progressive Dementia is outlined in 5 stages. (Listed below).

The 5 Stages of Dementia are a part of the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR), which professionals use to evaluate the progression of symptoms in patients with dementia.

They five describe a patient’s ability to perform in six different areas of cognition and functioning: orientation, memory, judgment, home and hobbies, personal care, and community.

5 stages of Dementia

Stage 1: No impairment

The first stage of Dementia often shows no impairment in the person’s abilities. In a CDR test, if your loved one gets a score of 0, they have no significant memory problems, are fully oriented in time and place, have normal judgment, can function out in the world, have a well-maintained home life, and are fully able to take care of their personal needs.

Stage 2: Questionable Impairment

If your loved one scores 0.5 on the CDR test they are representative very slight impairments. Your loved one may have minor memory inconsistencies that you have noticed in social settings. They might struggle to solve challenging problems and have trouble with timing. At this stage, however, they can still manage their own personal care without any help.

Stage 3: Mild Impairment

If your loved one is experiencing Stage 3 Dementia they will score a 1 in the CDR test. Your loved one will be noticeably impaired in each area, but the changes will still be mild. Their Short-term memory will be regularly disruptive of their day and they may start to become disorientated geographically and get lost if walking from one place to another (it is at this stage that they should not be driving anymore). Your loved one may start to have trouble functioning independently at events and activities outside the home. At home, chores may start to get neglected, and someone may need to remind them when it is time to take care of personal hygiene.

Stage 4: Moderate Impairment

A CDR score of 2 means that your elderly relative is moderately impaired. They now need care at all times with things like personal hygiene and chores however they are still well enough to go out to social activities and be involved in the housework.

At stage 4 there is more disorientation when it comes to time and space. They get lost easily and struggle to understand time. Short-term memory is seriously impaired and it is difficult to remember anything new- this is inclusive of what they are doing and people they just met.

Stage 5: Severe Impairment

The fifth stage of Dementia is the most severe and happens when your loved one scores a 3 in a CDR test. At this point your loved one cannot function at all without help. They have experienced extreme memory loss and have no understanding of orientation in time or geography. It is almost impossible for Stage 5 Dementia patients to go out and engage in everyday activities, even with assistance. At Stage 5 the individual is unable to function in the home at all and help is required for attending to personal needs.

Stage 5 patients often need to be admitted into a high care facility where their needs can be professionally met at the burden is a heavy one for family members to endure.

Admitting your loved one into a care facility is an emotionally difficult decision. Balance Aged Care Specialists are passionate about taking the financial pressure off putting your loved one into Aged Care as you focus on the other things that really matter.

For help with planning as your loved one goes into Aged Care contact us.