What Influences the Progression of the Stages of Dementia?
Updated: May 14
One of the primary questions in most people’s minds when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia is what to anticipate in the time to come. We understand that the hallmark of Alzheimer's is the increasing decline in cognitive abilities and the skills needed to manage day to day life. However, each individual progresses through the stages of dementia in a different way. There are a variety of factors that may impact the rate of decline, including:
Prescription drugs the individual is taking
Overall health and physical makeup
The system of support established
The person’s general emotional wellbeing and resilience
There are additional determinants to take into account based upon the type of dementia diagnosed. As an example:
MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment): Mild cognitive impairment effects up to twenty percent of seniors. More than the typical minor cognitive decline experienced in aging, MCI involves difficulties with language, thinking, judgment, and memory which are obvious to the older adult individually and frequently to others as well. Medical researchers discovered that about 38% of seniors with MCI later developed dementia. The other 62% never progressed further than MCI – and in some instances, their condition actually improved, for unidentified reasons. Indications of MCI include forgetfulness, impulsiveness, depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability and aggression, and others.
Vascular Dementia: Because vascular dementia is brought on by a blockage in blood circulation to the brain, the type of blockage will impact the advancement of the disease. If small blood vessels are blocked, for instance, the decline will typically occur gradually. Major blood vessel blockage can cause a rapid onset of symptoms, accompanied by intense periods of change thereafter.
Lewy Body Dementia: Progression of Lewy body dementia can be gradual, but may also consist of widely differing levels of attention and alertness during the early stages. One day may find a senior loved one lucid, while the following day – and even several hours later – could bring hallucinations, confusion, and memory loss. In the later stages of the disease, restlessness, agitation, aggression, tremors, and stiffness become more common.
Frontotemporal Dementia: Unlike other forms of dementia, short-term memory is frequently not impacted during the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. Instead, early symptoms include behavioral changes, for example, distraction, rudeness, apathy, and disregard for social norms. As the disease advances, problems with language become apparent as well, along with memory loss, vision problems, as well as other regular symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Reach out to the dementia care team at The Care Company for additional informative resources that will help you better understand and care for someone you love with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia. We are also always available to assist with compassionate, creative care in order to make life more rewarding for a senior with dementia, and also to help family members achieve a better life balance. Contact us at 416-422-2273 today for Alzheimer’s and dementia care in the Greater Toronto area!