Experiencing memory loss can be a scary experience and shouldn’t be overlooked. If you have noticed this symptom and a change in actions, speech, thought process, or feelings in yourself or a loved one, consider seeing a doctor. Those are potential signs of dementia, so it can be worth checking. Dementia is a medical condition and not an expected aspect of aging. The collection of symptoms we call dementia is a process of deterioration in brain function.
According to the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS), developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg, dementia can be caused by several things and can look different depending on the person. Additional symptoms were sourced from dementia.org.
Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline
Unfortunately, the symptoms in that stage are not yet obvious and will likely go completely unnoticed. The person still feels and acts normal at that stage.
Stage 2: Age Associated Memory Impairment
A typical symptom of the second stage is a mild cognitive decline, that is usually associated with memory impairment due to aging. Some insignificant lapses in memory may not yet be seen as alarming, or simply go unnoticed.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment
This stage is when noticeable changes start occurring. Some of the indicators include:
- Forgetting names of loved ones
- Getting lost easily
- Losing important things too often
- Difficulty focusing
- Noticeably worsened job performance
- Having trouble remembering what you’ve just read
Typically, with all these changes, the person is likely to suffer mild to severe anxiety at this stage. This is the time to go see a specialist who will help you determine your diagnosis and will guide you through the next steps.
Stage 4: Mild Dementia
This is where mood changes become more noticeable. The person might get more and more uncomfortable in social situations and retreat from them more often, while potentially also displaying personality changes. Typically, the patient is not aware of said changes and will likely deny them. Some of the changes to look out for are:
- Less awareness of recent or even current events
- Can’t remember details from their past
- Can’t remember or recognize who’s in front of them
Stage 5: Moderate Dementia
This stage lasts for a different amount of time from person to person, but it typically lasts for about a year. The person’s cognitive ability keeps deteriorating, and they won’t be able to survive without assistance anymore. They lose most of their memory, are often very confused and need assistance with most everyday tasks.
Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia
This stage of dementia can last 2 to 3 years, and at this point, the person will need a lot of care to help them carry out daily activities. Please be aware of:
- Obsessive behavior
- Delusional behavior
- Aggression, agitation, paranoia
- Having difficulty communicating
- Having a hard time to control bladder and bowels
- Emotional imbalance
- Lack of enthusiasm
Stage 7: Severe Dementia
This is the final stage of the deterioration process. The person slowly loses their speech some motor skills. They will need help with the smallest things, like walking, eating, and using the restroom.
It is possible to delay the progression of the condition if you catch it in the early stages and have a medical professional guide you through it. Some types of dementia can even be reversed or, in some cases, misdiagnosed. Meaning, another condition’s symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for dementia symptoms. The safest course of action is to take any concerns you might have to a doctor and have them assess you.