Dementia Stages: What to Look For

By M. Chris Wolf, PH.D.

The dementia stages are progressive and degenerative due to a disorder of the brain. Dementia typically affects people over the age of 65. The symptoms of dementia are often confused with typical processes of aging and are neglected until the condition becomes worse. There are several causes of dementia including Alzheimer's disease, degeneration of frontal-temporal lobe, Huntington's disease, severe brain injury, stroke and aging as well as a variety of other disorders or conditions. The progression of dementia symptoms vary from person to person, however, there are three stages of progression.

First Stage of Dementia

During the early stage of dementia the person will have a noticeable deterioration of memory. Their concentration will become impaired and there is an increase in anxiety and fatigue. The symptoms are very common to those typical of the aging process. A common sign during the first stage is forgetfulness and difficulties finding the "right" words. During this stage the person may forget everyday routines such as phone numbers, forget their way home or where the car is parked. There is a change in regular tasks such as cooking.

Second Stage of Dementia

During the second stage of dementia the deterioration is more apparent. At this stage of the disorder, many have difficulties with tasks such as housework. The person may forget recent events and remember events from the past and associate them as being from the present. The person may forget the name and face of family members or confuse them with someone else. During this stage the person may often forget to eat or maintain hygiene. They often wonder outside and become lost. During the second stage someone with dementia will often become angry and frustrated. The person may also experience auditory and/or visual hallucinations during this stage of the disorder.

Third Stage of Dementia

Of the dementia stages, the third is the most severe. During the third stage the person's intellectual function is severely impaired. There is a possibility of weakness on one side of the body, a decrease in muscle tone, considerable neurological disability and their gait is unsteady. The person will typically have lost the ability to communicate, becomes incontinent and are unable to recognize loved ones. Their symptoms are usually worse at night and are placed in a center for round the clock care during this stage.

Living and caring for a family member suffering with the various dementia stages, is an emotional and physical challenge, however, there are small things you can do in the first and second stages such as encouraging participation in small activities and continuously repeating names of their loved ones.

Improve Memory

Also see Dementia Overview

Also visit Dementia and Alzheimers

See also Alzheimer's Caregiver


Epigee Women's Health: Dementia

University of Kansas Medical Center: Dementia

Return from Dementia Stages to Dementia Treatment


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