Dementia – Stages

May 15, 2019

What are a Dementia stages?


Quite often a health professional is using and discussing dementia “stages” which refers how far a person’s dementia progressed.


Dementia is commonly conceived of as progressing in three stages: Mild or early, Moderate or middle and Severe or late.


Many providers use the system developed by Dr Barry Reisberg of New York University which includes 7 stages. The Reisberg scale is also known as the GDS – or Global Deteriorate Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia. This Scale focusses primarily on cognitive abilities.


Another scale is the 7 stage Functional Assessment Staging (FAST) scale, which focuses primarily on activities of daily living.


Finally, the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) combines on assessment of cognitive abilities which function in order to give a grade on a 5-stage scale. The CDR scale is mostly used in research settings.


We will focus on the most popular scale which is Reisberg scale.


Stages 1-3: No Dementia


In Stage 1 the person functions normally and is mentally healthy, there is no memory loss and no signs and symptoms.


In Stage 2 which is also known as a very mild cognitive decline, there is a normal forgetfulness that often-attributed normal signs of ageing. In this early stage, caregiving is about finding a balance between independence and assistance.

In Stage 3 which is mild cognitive decline, the forgetfulness is increased, the performance at work is decreased, there is a speech difficulty and difficulty to focus on the daily tasks.



Stage 4 – Early: Stage Dementia


Stage 4 is also known as moderate cognitive decline.

The cognitive issues can be detected during a medical interview and exam.

In this stage the person will have difficulty concentrating, difficulty with managing the finances and travelling to the new locations. The person might have trouble with socializing and begin withdrawn from family and friends. On this Stage providing and creating a Daily care plan will help with the care.


Stages 5 – 6: Mid-Stage Dementia


Stage 5 also known as mid-stage dementia. The person in this Stage will need assistance to complete activities of daily living. The signs and symptoms of dementia will be very easy to identify. Short term memory will be mostly lost, confusion and forgetfulness will be increased throughout activities of daily living.


Stage 6 in this Stage a person may start forgetting the names of close ones, and the memory of the recent events will be very little. Communication will be severely disabled, and anxiety, delusions, compulsions and agitation may occur.


Stage 7: Late – Stage Dementia


Stage 7 which is the last stage where is severe cognitive decline, it lasts an average of 2.5 years.

The person in this Stage usually has no ability to communicate, to speak and requires assistance with most activities including walking. At this Stage it is very important to provide comfort and quality of life, the care may be needed around-the clock.



No individual with dementia experiences the progression of the disease in the exact same way. There is a natural course of the disease and overtime the capabilities of all persons with dementia will worsen and eventually the ability to function will cease.


(next article: How to deal with dementia people?)