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4 Things to Know about Dementia Stages

dementia stages Sep 07, 2020

Welcome back Careblazer. Today, I want to share with you some information about dementia stages. Specifically, I’ll be sharing 4 important things to keep in mind whenever you want to find out what stage of dementia your loved one is in. 

If you would rather watch my video on this topic, click here

Next week. I’ll share with you some specific staging models - basically how you might be able to determine what stage your loved one with dementia is in. Today, I want to talk about some common questions and confusion that exist around stages of dementia so that when you watch next week’s video on the different stages, it will make more sense. 

Also, if you haven’t already downloaded your dementia Careblazer survival guide, click here. It’s free and it’s filled with a ton of tips and strategies to help you survive this dementia careblazer journey. 


So the first thing I want you to know is there are many different dementia staging models. Meaning there are many different tools people use to determine what stage of dementia their loved one is in. Some tools are simple like the 3 stage model, some are more complicated like a 7 stage model with different steps in each stage like 6a, 6b, and so on. And, there are some that only look at the function and what a person can do physically rather than cognition. There’s even one that uses gemstones as names of stages to help find out the stage. 


All of this is enough to make anyone confused and my goal is to help make this information as easy to understand as possible so you can get the most out of the information and apply it to your loved one. So what I want you to know is that you can use any model you want. It doesn’t really matter. And it’s hard to know what any number means if you don’t exactly know what model of dementia staging is being used. So when someone tells you that their loved one is in stage 3, it’s hard to know exactly what that means unless you know what staging model they are using. 


When it comes to you and your loved one with dementia, the most important thing is that you know what model you are using or your doctor is using that way you can reference that specific model whenever you want to see if your loved one is moving on to another stage or staying in the same place. Again, I’ll break down some of the more common models in next week’s video. 


The next thing to know about dementia stages is that it’s more of a continuum rather than a clear cut defined stage. Many people with dementia can appear to be “in-between” stages or they might seem to be in one stage one day and another stage another day. Things like changes in their environment, a trip somewhere new, interactions with new people, these can all seem to make the person with dementia look like they’ve progressed to a new stage. But upon returning to their usual routine, or usual environment, they might return back to their prior level of functioning. So what seemed like a progression to the next stage was actually just temporary. This same type of decline is common in people who have had surgery or might be experiencing delirium, they appear to have progressed to another, more impaired stage of dementia, but eventually, return back to their normal state of functioning. 


Have any of you had the experience of someone with dementia appearing more impaired one day and appearing almost fine another day? That’s why it’s important to think of these stages of dementia on a continuum. We all want things to be more clear cut and defined, but in dementia care, there is so little that is clear cut. 


The best thing to keep in mind here is that rather than looking at any one particular day or week, you want to consider the full picture of your loved one’s behaviors over the course of a month or so to get an accurate picture of what stage your loved one might be in. 


The 3rd thing that is important to know is that the progression from one stage to another is different for everyone. There is no specific set of time that people spend in any one stage. There are so many factors that contribute to why someone stays in one stage longer than someone else. Some of these factors include their nutrition, other medical conditions, & the specific type of dementia they have. So when it comes to stages, you can apply the different staging models to any type of dementia, but it doesn’t mean they will all progress the same. Even 2 different people with the same type of dementia can progress differently through the stages due to other factors involved.

The 4th thing to know is that whenever you are trying to decide about what stage of dementia someone is in, you can’t just look at one symptom. Saying that your loved one forgot who you were, or forgot how to cook their favorite dish, or is having trouble getting dressed, any of these symptoms alone don’t tell you what stage your loved one is in, It’s more of a bigger picture, thinking of multiple behaviors, functions, and thinking abilities to come to a good understanding of what stage of dementia they are experiencing.  


So to recap, before you watch next week’s video on the different ways to determine the stage of dementia your loved one is in: 

1- There are different tools you can use to find out what stage (called dementia staging models)

2- Stages of dementia are more of a continuum, not a clearly defined stage where a person stays.

3- There is no set amount of time that anyone spends in the different stages. It’s different for everyone and relies on a variety of other factors

4- You can’t just look at one symptom to determine the stage, you need to look at the bigger picture. 


Careblazer, I hope this helped you in some way. I’ll be back next week to share with you some specific staging tools you can apply to your loved one with dementia. 


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