Dementia is a term used to describe a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills. The symptoms are severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. After Alzheimer, Vascular dementia is the second most common dementia type. There are also other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia out of which some are reversible.
Dementia that gets worse with time, also the most common type, is called progressive dementia. It progresses through five significant stages which are established in the Clinical Dementia Rating used to evaluate the progression of symptoms in a patient. These stages describe a patient’s ability to perform in six different areas of cognition and functioning: orientation, memory, judgment, home and hobbies, personal care, and community.
Stage 1 represents no noticeable impairment in the patient. A person in stage 1 of dementia has no significant memory problems. Patients are oriented in time and place, have normal judgment, and are fully able to take care of their personal needs.
Stage 2 involves minor impairment usually as memory inconsistencies. During this stage a person may have trouble with time and solving difficult problems. Usually, people start exhibiting poor performance at work or during social activities. However, they are still able to take care of their personal needs without any help.
Stage 3 brings in noticeable impairment to dementia patients however the changes are still mild. They may start experiencing short-term memory, making them forget some crucial things from everyday life day. Geographical disorientation and trouble with directions may become significant, causing troubles in moving from one place to another. They may also struggle in functioning independently outside the home. They may start forgetting some daily chores at home, including personal hygiene.
Stage 4, represented by a score of 2 in CDR signifies moderate impairment. It is this stage when patients need some help taking care of their personal hygiene or other daily chores. Disorientation regarding time and space is quite significant, sometimes disabling them from moving from one place to other on their own. They seriously struggle with short-term memory, experiencing problems with remembering recent things, including people they just met.
The fifth stage of dementia is the most severe. Patients cannot function at all without help during this stage and may need help with almost everything, including personal needs. Patients experience extreme memory loss and severe disorientation in time or geography. It is almost impossible for patients to go out and engage in everyday activities, even with assistance.
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