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Dementia refers to a group of diseases that cause memory loss and affect other mental functions. It commonly occurs as people reach around 60 years of age and beyond. But the problem here is that, at this age phase, age-related memory loss also prevails. As a result, forgetting crucial things or daily routine tasks becomes a part of daily living. So, how can you differentiate dementia from age-related memory issues?
The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances are of treating this disease. For early diagnosis, knowledge of early signs and the stages of dementia is essential. In this post, you'll find all you need to know about the stages of dementia and how to reduce the risk of this condition.
Early Signs of Dementia
Dementia is a progressive disease, so there are many stages and symptoms as the disease progresses. Fortunately, the early signs of dementia can be diagnosed if you pay attention. At an early stage, this disease doesn't greatly affect your daily routine and overall life quality. Check the table below to know the difference between dementia and common aging changes:
|Signs of Dementia Examples||Normal Age-Related Changes Examples|
|Recent memory loss||Occasionally forgetting learned information|
|Forgetting how to do simple routine tasks||Needing help to do things you may have done independently before|
|Problems with language||Problems finding the right word sometimes|
|Frequent poor judgment and decision-making||Making a bad decision once in a while|
|Inability to manage a budget||Missing a monthly payment|
|Losing track of the date or season||Forgetting what day it is momentarily|
|Misplacing things and finding it difficult to retrace the steps to find them||Losing things from time to time|
What Are the Stages of Dementia?
The stages of dementia vary from person to person. However, there are some common symptoms associated with different stages of dementia. The stages of dementia along with symptoms are listed below:
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) affects senior adults, and most of the affected persons ultimately develop Alzheimer's disease. Some common signs associated with this stage of dementia include:
- Getting lost or losing things easily
- Memory loss
- Trouble remembering words
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Poor performance at work
At this stage, the patients can still perform their tasks. However, they experience short-term memory loss that affects their daily life quality. The symptoms of mild dementia may include:
- Memory loss of the recent events
- Personality changes, either gloomier or withdrawn
- Getting lost or misplacing things
- Struggling with complex and problem-solving tasks, such as managing a budget
- Difficulty in organizing and expressing thoughts
Moderate (Middle-stage) Dementia
As the disease progress, so do the complications. People who have moderate dementia need help to perform their activities of daily living. It becomes challenging for them to do their routine activities and self-care as the disease progresses. Symptoms of moderate dementia include:
- Increasing confusion or poor judgment
- Advancing memory loss, including the inability to remember events in the more distant past
- Assistance is required to perform routine activities, such as bathing
- Prominent personality changes and behavioral changes
- Alternations in sleep patterns, such as sleeping during the day and restlessness at night
Severe (Late-stage) Dementia
Severe dementia is the stage of extreme decline in mental and physical capabilities. It can cause:
- Inability to communicate
- Need full-time assistance to perform daily tasks such as eating, bathing, etc
- Loss of physical capabilities, such as sitting, walking, and eventually loss of internal body functions, including swallowing, bowel function, etc
- Increased risk of infections, such as pneumonia
How Fast does Dementia Progress?
The rate at which dementia progresses is different for every person. It also depends upon different types of dementia. For example, Alzheimer's disease, one of the many types of dementia, progresses at the slowest speed. Other types of dementia affect a person's senses more quickly. There are a lot of factors that affect the rate of progression of dementia, and these include:
- Genetic factors
- Overall physical health
- Cardiovascular health
- Repeated infections
How to Reduce the Risk of Dementia?
Although there is no way to prevent this disease, some precautions can help you slow down the progress. With care and ensuring these preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of dementia considerably:
- Keep Your Mind Active
Aging has the highest risk of deteriorating mental function. Brain-stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles, playing games, etc., keep your mind active. These activities can delay the progression speed of dementia.
- Stay Physically Active
Studies show that about 150 minutes of exercise a week can significantly reduce the onset of dementia in the elderly.
- Quit Smoking
According to experts, smoking increases the risk of dementia and blood vessel conditions. Therefore, smoking in middle age and beyond is particularly prohibited if you want to reduce the risk of dementia. Click here to learn about how to break bad habits!
- Get Enough Vitamins
Vitamin D supplementation through different foods and sun exposure have been shown to decrease the chance of dementia. Moreover, getting an adequate amount of vitamin B complex and vitamin C is also considered effective in preventing dementia.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains promotes health and lowers the risk of dementia. This type of balanced diet also improves cardiovascular health, which reduces the risk of dementia.
- Have a Proper Sleep Routine
A sound sleep routine keeps you mentally stable, which is essential to get rid of anxiety and depression. Both these are triggering factors for dementia.
- Treat Health Conditions
If you're suffering from anxiety and depression, talk to your doctor about it. Never start any medication without your doctor's consultation. It's crucial because wrong medications can negatively affect your brain activity, which can lead to dementia.
Understanding the stages of dementia is the first step to preventing this disease. If you observe the early signs of dementia, talk to your doctor immediately. Never ignore any symptom considering it a regular age-related change. Early diagnosis can help you reduce the rate of progression of dementia. Moreover, it also helps the experts to work on new treatment methods for this severe disease.