May 13, 2021 by Dean Bellefeuille

Learn about the dementia progression stages for each type of dementia.

One of the first things many people want to know when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia is what the dementia progression stages will look like. We know that the unmistakable sign of dementia is the increasing decline in cognitive abilities as well as the skills needed to take care of everyday life. However, each individual progresses through these changes at a different pace. There are a variety of factors  that may affect the rate of decline, such as:

  • Prescriptions the individual is taking
  • Overall health and physical makeup
  • The community of support established
  • The person’s general emotional wellbeing and resilience

There are additional determinants to consider based upon the specific type of dementia diagnosed. As an example:

  • MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment): Mild cognitive impairment affects up to 20 percent of seniors. More than the normal minor cognitive decline experienced in aging, MCI involves difficulties with language, thinking, judgment, and memory which are obvious to the senior individually and frequently to others as well. Medical researchers discovered that about 38% of older adults with MCI later developed dementia. The other 62% never progressed further than MCI – and in some instances, their condition actually improved, for unidentified reasons. Signs of MCI include forgetfulness, impulsiveness, depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability and aggression, and more.
  • Vascular Dementia: Because vascular dementia is brought on by a blockage in blood circulation to the brain, the type of blockage will affect the progression of the disease. If small blood vessels are blocked, for instance, the decline will typically occur gradually. Major blood vessel blockage may cause an abrupt onset of symptoms, followed by intense periods of change thereafter.
  • Lewy Body Dementia: Progression of Lewy body dementia might be gradual, but may also include widely differing levels of alertness and attention during the early stages. One day could find the individual lucid, while the next day – and on occasion even several hours later – could bring confusion, hallucinations, and memory loss. In the late stages of the disease, agitation, restlessness, aggression, tremors, and stiffness are more common.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia: Unlike other forms of dementia, short-term memory is typically not impacted during the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. Instead, early symptoms include behavioral changes, such as distraction, rudeness, apathy, and disregard for social norms. As the disease advances, problems with language become noticeable as well, in addition to memory loss, vision problems, and other typical symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

Get in touch with the dementia care team at the leading provider of Alzheimer’s care in Syracuse and surrounding areas, At Home Independent Living, for informative resources that will help you better understand and care for someone you love with dementia. We’re also always here to help with creative, compassionate care to help make life more satisfying for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, and also to help family members achieve an improved life balance. For more information, contact us at (315) 579-HOME (4663)today!