Dementia is a debilitating disorder that claims the intellectual abilities of its victims. Although a dementia diagnosis can be devastating to both you and your loved one, knowing the effects of dementia can help you prepare for the future.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is not actually a disease itself, but a term used to describe a collection of symptoms causes by other diseases and disorders. The most obvious dementia symptoms include the impairment of memory and communication skills as well as dramatic mood swings.
Dementia is more common in elderly people. According to a study backed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (2007), one in seven people over the age of 71 suffer from some degree of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and stroke are the two most common causes of dementia symptoms.
Seven Stages of Dementia
Dementia is categorized into distinct stages. The stages of dementia are as follows:
- Stage one:No cognitive decline. The individual does not suffer any effects of dementia.
- Stage two:Very mild cognitive decline. The individual experiences the type of mild memory loss often associated with normal aging (i.e., forgetting people’s names).
- Stage three:Mild cognitive decline. Memory loss becomes more evident and other dementia symptoms, such as impaired communication, begin to surface.
- Stage four:Moderate cognitive decline. Short-term memory loss declines further. The individual has difficulty performing complex tasks, such as balancing finances. She may also begin to withdraw from family and friends.
- Stage five:Moderately severe cognitive decline. By this time, major gaps in memory are evident. The individual is often confused, even in familiar situations. Other behavioral symptoms may also be present. He may require assistance with daily tasks.
- Stage six:Severe cognitive decline. Memory function and decision-making ability are severely impaired and the individual is unable to care for herself.
- Stage seven:Very severe cognitive decline. The individual can’t speak or communicate. He can’t move without assistance and requires constant care.
Is There a Cure for Dementia?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia. Dementia-related brain damage simply cannot be fixed. Treatment may be able to slow the progression of the disease or help to curb dementia symptoms. Talk to your doctor for treatment options.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Dementia — definition. Retrieved January 8, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dementia/DS01131
U.S. National Institutes of Health. (2007). One in seven americans age 71 and older has some type of dementia, NIH funded study. Retrieved January 8, 2011, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/NewsAndEvents/PressReleases/PR20071030ADAMS.htm
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2010). Dementia. Retrieved January 8, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dementia.html