7 Stages & Signs of Dementia | What to Look For?

Category: Dementia


Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of disorders. There are many forms of dementia, the most common forms including Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Lewy bodies and frontotemporal. Dementia is a progressive disorder with symptoms gradually worsening over time.

Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) is an assessment tool used to determine which stage of dementia a person is experiencing. The tool is used as a rough outline to determine the best course of care or treatment for the person diagnosed with dementia. While not everyone will experience the same symptoms there is a 7-stage progression most individuals will follow. These 7 stages are then categorised by 4 diagnosis, No dementia, early-stage dementia, mid-stage dementia and late-stage dementia.

No Dementia, Stages 1-3

  • Stage 1 – In this stage there are no signs of dementia. The person functions normally and there are no signs or symptoms.
  • Stage 2 – Very mild cognitive decline. In this stage people start to experience ‘normal’ forgetfulness. This is sign is normally associated with aging resulting in loved ones and professionals not noticing the underlining cause.
  • Stage 3 – Mild cognitive decline. In this stage, loved ones may begin to notice the increase in forgetfulness, difficulty in concentration and speech difficulty. This is the final stage in this category prior to the onset of dementia.

Early-Stage Dementia, Stage 4

  • Stage 4 – Early-stage dementia. In this stage, professionals can detect cognitive decline problems during a patient appointment. The person will begin to have trouble concentrating, performing daily tasks such as finances, increase in forgetfulness and memory issues.

Mid-Stage Dementia, Stages 5-6

  • Stage 5 – Moderately severe cognitive decline. In this stage, signs and symptoms will be easy to identify. The person will have major memory issues and they will now need assistance with daily living activities.
  • Stage 6 – Severe cognitive decline. In this stage the symptoms of dementia will be having a profound effect on the individual. They will start to forget names and have little memory of events or earlier memories. In this stage the individual will have personality/ emotional changes, bladder control issues and anxiety.

Late-Stage Dementia, Stage 7

  • Stage 7 – Very severe cognitive decline. Stage seven is the final stage of the dementia progression. At this stage, most people will have no ability to speak or communicate. They will require assistance with most daily activities including walking, dressing, bathing, and toileting. This stage requires 24-hour care and assistance.

The 7 stages and signs of dementia
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