Dementia is often considered a disease but in fact it is a set of symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease and brain damage from an injury can also cause dementia in patients. There can be other causes as well, like Lewy body dementia and also Huntington’s disease.
Memory slips in older people won’t necessarily mean it’s a form of dementia, but that is not always the case. Some amount of memory loss is normal as we age, but to be considered as dementia there has to be more symptoms present and they have to affect other areas of the brain as well. This is also why it is important to understand the different stages of dementia.
Stage 1 – No Impairment
Stage one of dementia represents no impairment in an individual’s abilities. If someone gets a score of zero, they have no significant memory problem and they are fully orientated. This also means normal judgment and functionality in the world.
Stage 2 – Questionably Impairment
A score of 0.5 on the CDR scale can indicate slight impairments. The individual can have minor memory inconsistencies and might struggle to salve some challenging problems. In addition, they may also be slipping in work when they engage in social activities but they can still manage their own personal care without any help from others.
Stage 3 – Mild Impairment
With a CDR score of 1, the individual has noticeable impairment, although still mild. Short-term memory will be affected and this might disrupt parts of their day. They might also start to become disorientated and may have trouble following directions from one place to another. These individuals might also have trouble functioning independently at activities and events away from their home.
Stage 4 – Moderate Impairment
A score of 2 means that the individual is moderately impaired and now needs help to take care of things like personal hygiene. At this stage there will be more disorientation and although they might be well enough to go out, they need to be accompanied. Short term memory will be severely affected and people can get lost easily. It will also be difficult to remember new things, like meeting new people.
Stage 5 – Severe Impairment
This fifth stage of dementia is also the most severe. Individuals cannot function well at all without help. They will experience extreme memory loss and will have no understanding of direction or geography. They won’t be able to function at home without help, which is why they need constant attention.
Dementia can be devastating for patients and their loved ones, which is why it is important to know the different stages and what you can do to make life as easy as possible for your elderly loved ones. Dementia can be caused by an infection, a nutritional deficiency, or be a side effect of a medication. It can also be due to bleeding on the brain and symptoms can be stopped or even reversed, as long as the underlying cause is being treated too.
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