Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of cognitive disorders that affect memory and thinking. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, typically occurs in people who are age 60 and older.
Dementia stems from a number of health conditions including stroke, head trauma and Parkinson’s disease. Although signs of cognitive decline vary with each individual patient, medical professionals use the Clinical Dementia Rating scale to measure six areas of mental capacity and functioning: orientation, memory, judgment, home and hobbies, personal care, and community. Dementia stages include the following:
- Stage 1 – CDR-0 or No Impairment: In this initial stage, no symptoms of cognitive dysfunction appear.
- Stage 2 – CDR-0.5 or Questionable Impairment: Early-stage dementia presents with some memory lapses that may be dismissed as normal aging.
- Stage 3 – CDR-1 or Mild Impairment: Some individuals with a score of 1 get disoriented with their location or directions, or misplace or lose important objects. Short-term memory is slightly affected.
- Stage 4 – CDR-2 or Moderate Impairment: With middle-stage dementia, symptoms are quite noticeable to others. Patients show signs of forgetting certain words and most anything new, including the people they just met. Assistance is needed to get out for appointments or to attend social gatherings. Understanding time and space relationships is an increased struggle. Incontinence and proper toilet wiping are a challenge.
- Stage 5 – CDR-3 or Severe Impairment: Extreme confusion and memory loss sets in. Assistance is required for daily routines such as grooming, dressing and eating. The last and most severe stage is marked by the patient’s inability to speak beyond rambling phrases. Rigidity, plus loss of muscle control and normal reflexes, takes over. Sitting and walking and eventually swallowing become more limiting.
Most forms of dementia have no cure, but are reversible if caused by treatable factors including nutritional deficiency, an infection or brain bleed. Right at Home senior care providers can help patients who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
What concerns you most about dementia in your aging loved one?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.