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What are the seven stages of dementia?

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The seven stages of dementia are a generalized description of the progression of cognitive decline in dementia patients, according to Dementia Care Central. The seven-stage system is based on the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia (GDS), which is also referred to as the Reisberg Scale.

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The first and second stages of dementia refer to people who function normally and exhibit either no symptoms or very mild symptoms of cognitive decline, such as the normal, occasional forgetfulness that typically accompanies aging, according to Dementia Care Central. People who have no symptoms at all are considered stage one, and even doctors would not recognize the symptoms of dementia in stage two.

The third and fourth stages of dementia are characterized by mild to moderate cognitive decline. Increased forgetfulness becomes apparent in stage three, as reported by Dementia Care Central. The moderate decline exhibited in stage four is typified by difficulty concentrating, navigating alone and managing finances. Persons at this stage may begin to withdraw from family and friends, and they may be in denial about their intensifying symptoms.

Stages five and six involve moderately severe to severe dementia symptoms. Significant memory impairment becomes apparent, and patients need assistance to perform basic daily activities. Incontinence, personality changes and anxiety often appear. By stage seven, persons with dementia lose the ability to speak and require assistance for nearly all activities. Even walking often becomes impossible, according to Dementia Care Central.

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