Dementia Stages: How Fast Dementia Progresses, Stages of Dementia, and More

Dementia Stages: How Fast Dementia Progresses, Stages of Dementia, and More

Dementia is a mental disorder that can cause memory loss and deterioration in other brain functions. Dementia is a progressive impairment of cognitive function caused by brain damage. Over time, a person with dementia will have increased difficulty with memory, understanding, communication, and reasoning. The condition worsens with time; for some people, it worsens rapidly while it takes years to progress into the next stages for others. The progression of dementia into advanced stages depends on the underlying cause. Some factors that affect the rate of progression include:

  • Age
  • Genetic factors
  • Overall physical health
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Diabetes
  • Strokes
  • Repeated infections

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia and shows the slowest progression of the disease.

Stages of Dementia

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Reisberg Scale is the most common scale for showing stages of dementia. It has seven stages and the GDS – or Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia. This scale focuses primarily on cognitive abilities. 

Stages of dementia can help understand how the disease progresses. 

Dementia Stages in the Reisberg Scale

Stage 1 – No Cognitive Decline: During stage 1, there is no noticeable cognitive impairment.

Stage 2 – Very Mild Cognitive Decline: A very mild decline will begin to be noticeable. Patients complain of slight memory problems that may be attributed to aging. It is unlikely that dementia would be diagnosed at this stage.

Stage 3 – Mild Cognitive Decline: Loved ones and health care providers might begin to notice a mild decline in cognitive functions, including trouble with focusing, working, or organizing. This stage usually occurs approximately 7 years before the onset of dementia.  

Stage 4 – Moderate Cognitive Decline: People with dementia in stage 4 will have apparent difficulty with problem-solving, remembering names and details, and may withdraw socially as new situations and places are challenging. A doctor will diagnose dementia at this stage, which usually lasts about two years.

Stage 5 – Moderately-Severe Cognitive Decline: During this stage of dementia, there are many noticeable declines in function, and the person will require some assistance with the activities of daily living. Memory is often quite impaired.  

Stage 6 – Severe Cognitive Decline: During this stage, the person will require assistance to complete most daily living activities and may begin experiencing difficulty with speech or incontinence. Personality changes, including agitation and delusions, are quite apparent.

Stage 7 – Very Severe Cognitive Decline: In this stage of dementia, persons have lost the ability to walk and communicate, requiring assistance with all activities.

Dementia Stages in the Fast Scale

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Another significant scale is the seven stages Functional Assessment Staging (FAST) scale. The primary focus is on activities of daily living.

Stage 1: Normal functioning with no noticeable decline.

Stage 2: The person may feel like they are experiencing some decline.

Stage 3: Early disease which may show effects in demanding situations.

Stage 4: Mild disease, in which the person requires some assistance with complicated tasks.

Stage 5: Moderate disease, in which the person requires some assistance with many activities of daily living.

Stage 6: Moderately-severe disease where the person requires full assistance with activities of daily living. They may experience incontinence during this stage.

Stage 7: Severe disease removes the ability to speak, walk, smile, sit, and even hold one’s head up.

Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR)

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CDR is a 5-stage scale, shows mild, moderate, and severe dementia on a scale according to the assessment of cognitive abilities with function.

CDR 0 A score of 0 is normal or, no dementia

CDR 0.5 A score of 0.5 is very mild dementia.

CDR 1 A score of 1 is mild dementia.

CDR 2 A score of 2 is moderate dementia.

CDR 3 A score of 3 is severe dementia.


The scaling and stages of dementia can help you better understand the disease and underlying causes. Irrespective of where you or your loved ones fall in the staging of dementia, it can be treated. While there is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s, early diagnosis can prevent the disease from worsening. If you or your loved ones fall into any stage or are experiencing any signs and symptoms, you must consult your doctor. Visit Nema Care; we provide the best dementia care homes in India. Book your appointment now!


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