Understanding the Different Dementia Stages

Dementia is a condition that is characterized by a set of signs and symptoms that are attributed to diminishing changes in the function of the brain. There are different dementia stages and each has its distinguishing symptoms. The various symptoms may be experienced by almost all individuals affected with this disorder but it must be noted as well that dementia symptoms stages may also vary from person to person. For better understanding, it will be best to look at the different stages of dementia along with the appropriate dementia care that should be rendered.

Three Main Stages of Dementia

The stages of dementia are actually divided into three main levels such as the following:

  • Mild- In this level, affected individuals still have the capability to live independently as they can still perform daily hygiene activities like taking a bath. They are also capable of making sensible judgment but the ability to work and socialize is impaired.


  • Moderate- In this stage, employment in a regular work setting is not possible anymore. Out of the three main dementia stages, this is where independent living starts to diminish placing the affected individual into possible danger. Hence, supervision may be most beneficial.


  • Severe- In this stage, affected individuals needs total supervision since their daily activities and independent functions are severely damaged.

These are the main stages of dementia which classify the disorder into generalized signs and symptoms. The stages can be broad so Dr. Barry Reisberg had come up with a way to categorize dementia using the global deterioration scale or GDS.

dementia stages

By Highway2783 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What about GDS?

GDS is the method developed by Dr. Reisberg in order to help give caregivers a clear classification of the different stages of dementia by focusing on the cognitive function of the individuals experiencing dementia. The GDS classification is composed of seven stages and each is provided with a title.

The GDS classification consists of a comprehensive list of characteristics or signs and symptoms for each of the seven stages of dementia. With this, caregivers will have a basic idea of which stages their patients are in, giving them a clear assessment of the progression of the disease by having GDS as the basis for comparison.

The Seven GDS Dementia Stages

In order to have a clear idea of the disorder and its progression it will be best to look at the GDS so that you can arrive at the best assessment and plan of care. Here are the stages of dementia according to GDS:

  • Stage 1 (No Cognitive Decline) – Characterized with no clinical and subjective complaints of memory deficit.


  • Stage 2 (Very Mild Cognitive Decline) – It is a stage that is characterized by memory impairment related to aging. It is where dementia sufferers forget where they placed items and even names.


  • Stage 3 (Mild Cognitive Decline) - Out of the seven dementia stages, this is where clear cut impairments. Sufferers may be lost when going to familiar places and perform poorly at work. They may also forget names and things as well as misplace valuable things.


  • Stage 4(Moderate Cognitive Decline) – Deficits show on clinical interview and may be manifested by reduced knowledge of recent events, personal history, familiar persons and even decreased concentration.


  • Stage 5(Moderate Dementia) - Sufferers are extremely dependent on others. They are not able to recall relevant aspects of their lives such as family member names and telephone numbers.


  • Stage 6(Moderately Severe Dementia) – They may retain some idea of their past but may sometimes forget name of spouse and recent experiences. They may also express delusional behavior as well as obsessive and anxiety symptoms.


  • Stage 7 (Very Severe Cognitive Decline) – It is a stage where verbal abilities, continence and motor skills like walking are completely lost.

Dementia Caregiving Guidelines

In order to deal effectively with people suffering from the different dementia stages it will best to abide by certain caregiving tips like keeping a calm and safe environment since the patient can be like 3 years old at some points of the disease process. It is also helpful to plan activities that involve no stress like music therapy and short walks to the park or garden. Also, you can put labels on everything to assist them with the forgetful behavior and most importantly, treat them with love and respect.


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