The Seven Stages Of Dementia
I placed this article to give our readers an idea of the progression of dementia in humans, showing the various stages of the disease over time.
Similarly, there is a somewhat corresponding spectrum of strategic dementia in organizations as they often start in small changes, moving over time to failing policies before becoming total failures, some so bad that they cannot be reversed. In some measure, this is already taking place as we watch it occur.
One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.
Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.
Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline
Stage 1 of dementia can also be classified as the normal functioning stage. At this stage of dementia development, a patient generally does not exhibit any significant problems with memory, or any cognitive impairment. Stages 1-3 of dementia progression are generally known as “pre-dementia” stages.
Stage 2: Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.
Stage 4: Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Decreased knowledge of current and/or recent events
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Decreased ability to handle finances, arrange travel plans, etc.
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
Stage 5: Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia
When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:
- Delusional behavior
- Obsessive behavior and symptoms
- Anxiety, aggression, and agitation
- Loss of willpower
Patients may begin to wander, have difficulty sleeping, and in some cases will experience hallucinations.
Stage 7: Severe Dementia
Along with the loss of motor skills, patients will progressively lose the ability to speak during the course of stage 7 dementia. In the final stage, the brain seems to lose its connection with the body. Severe dementia frequently entails the loss of all verbal and speech abilities. Loved ones and caregivers will need to help the individual with walking, eating, and using the bathroom.
While the above explains the mindset of an individual as he/she goes through the spectrum of dementia, the same albeit a much broader perspective applies to a civilization, a country, a society, an organization, or an institution to come to grips with its fundamental strategies in any given area of interest or spectrum of issues. Admittedly, this is not the same as that of individuals, bearing in mind that the perspective of individuals may, in essence, color that of a civilization, country, or society.
Nonetheless, we view dementia in our culture and its broad spectrum as something which clearly impacts our policies and interests, leading to a slippery slope in one or more subject areas as time progresses and incremental, and even revolutionary, changes may lead to unintended consequences. They can be minor up to even catastrophic challenges and failures.
We view our current climate of hostility between races, religions, politics, economics, education, states, etc., as indications of the changes underway, the results of which we may well see over coming decades.