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Dementia isn’t a medical condition. Instead, it’s a collection of symptoms triggered by various other medical conditions. People with dementia can lose their capacity to think, remember, pay attention, and logically reason, as well as other mental functions. These symptoms are serious enough to harm one’s social or professional life.
Dementia affects 5%-8% of persons over the age of 65. After 65, this percentage increases by 5% every five years. Half of those over the age of 80 have some form of dementia.
Multiple factors may contribute to the development of dementia. A brain injury or illness affects the areas responsible for learning, memory, decision-making, and communication. As many as 50 different things can cause it, but one of the most common causes of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. This disease affects 60 to 80% of patients with dementia.
In this article, we’ll explain the various dementia types and stages, as well as dementia levels in great detail.
Signs of Dementia
There are many signs and symptoms of dementia caused by the death of neurons or nerve cells in the brain that once functioned normally. While everyone loses some neurons as they become older, dementia patients lose significantly more.
Dementia signs can include any of the following:
- Experience memory loss, the inability to make decisions, and confusion
- Struggle to speak, understand, and express thoughts, as well as to read and write
- Getting lost and wandering around a familiar area
- Having trouble managing money and paying bills
- Asking the same questions repeatedly
- Referring to common objects with strange terms
- Doing routine daily activities takes more time
- Loss of interest in routine activities or events
- Having hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
- Taking rash decisions
- Having little regard for the feelings of others
- Problems with mobility and loss of balance
7 Stages of Dementia
The various dementia symptom stages are listed below. The stages of dementia in the elderly are also similar.
No cognitive decline
Although no symptoms are present at this stage, tests may identify a problem.
Very mild decline
Your loved one’s behavior may start changing in these early stages of dementia symptoms. They will start forgetting names or misplaces familiar objects, but they will remain independent. Usually, symptoms are not evident to loved ones or doctors.
In this stage, you’ll see greater differences in your loved ones’ reasoning and thinking. They have difficulty establishing plans and speaking repetitively. They can also have trouble recalling recent events. This stage usually lasts between two and seven years.
Making plans and recalling recent incidents will be more difficult for your loved ones. Traveling and handling money may be difficult for them. They isolate themselves from friends and family, have trouble performing duties, and deny their symptoms. This stage lasts, on average, two years.
Moderately severe decline
Your loved ones may forget their phone number, address, or the names of their grandchildren. They can be unsure of the time or the day of the week. They’ll require help with some fundamental day-to-day tasks, such as choosing what to wear, at this stage. This stage lasts on average 1.5 years.
Patients tend to forget their spouse or partner’s name. They’ll require assistance in using the restroom and eating. Alteration in their personality and emotions are also possible. This period lasts, on average, for 2.5 years.
Very severe decline
Patients are unable to express their thoughts. They will be unable to walk and will spend most of their time in bed. This period lasts 1.5 to 2.5 years on average.
Types of Dementia
Some medical conditions and lifestyle choices might increase one’s risk of developing dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders cause neurons to die and brain function to deteriorate over time. There are currently no remedies for these conditions.
The following are the five most common types of dementia:
Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent form of dementia in the elderly. It’s caused by abnormalities in the brain, such as aberrant protein build-ups called amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
This is a rare type of dementia that affects adults under 60. It’s linked to unusual levels or types of tau and TDP-43 proteins.
Lewy body dementia
Altered protein alpha-synuclein deposits, known as Lewy bodies, produce this form of dementia.
This is a type of dementia caused by diseases that damage brain blood vessels or disrupt blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
This is a mix of two or more dementia types. People with dementia often have more than one type of dementia. For instance, many patients with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Other Dementia-Related Illnesses
This condition is caused by a genetic mutation that causes specific nerve cells’ death in the brain and spinal cord. Around the age of 30 or 40, signs and symptoms such as a serious loss of thinking (cognitive) skills occur.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Repetitive head trauma is the most common cause of this syndrome. TBI can affect boxers, football players, and soldiers. This disorder can induce dementia indications and symptoms such as depression, irritability, memory loss, and stuttering, depending on which area of the brain is affected.
This uncommon brain illness frequently strikes patients who have no recognized risk factors. This disorder could be caused by prions, which are infectious proteins. Symptoms and signs of this deadly disease usually arise after 60.
The origin of this disease is usually unknown, but it can be hereditary. Exposure to the sick brain or nervous system tissue, such as after a cornea transplant, can also cause it.
Many Parkinson’s disease patients develop dementia symptoms at some point.
What Kind of Care is Required at each Stage?
Different stages of dementia require extra care.
In the early stages of dementia, a person can function fairly independently and only requires minimal care. Simple appointment reminders and names of people may be required. If any chores cannot be completed safely on one’s own, support and supervision should be offered. It’s a good idea for caregivers and loved ones to talk about the future during this stage.
Assistance with activities of daily living, such as washing, grooming, and clothing, is frequently necessary for the latter stages of dementia. To accomplish these tasks, an individual may require prompts or signals at first. However, additional hands-on support will be required at some point. Caregivers must speak slowly and clearly and employ nonverbal communication because people in this stage of dementia have more difficulties communicating.
A person at this stage of dementia requires a great deal of attention. Twenty-four hours a day, assistance and monitoring are required. Patients with dementia may need assistance getting in and out of bed. In late-stage dementia, swallowing becomes a problem; therefore, carers must ensure that food is cut into small pieces or pureed. At some time, the person will be completely reliant on their carer. Not every family can provide this degree of care. Other care options are available, such as hiring a part-time caretaker or shifting your loved one to hospice care.