Dementia is a disease that deteriorates over time. Each person with dementia has their own unique journey through the seven stages of dementia, which typically follows a specific path.

Each stage of dementia has its own set of symptoms or worsening of an existing symptom.

The seven stages of dementia are separated into three progressive phases of dementia.

Pre-dementia or early-stage dementia. Early symptoms of dementia are generally very mild and not always easy to notice. Many people are generally independent and only need a small amount of assistance with daily living. Symptoms at this stage can we hard to diagnose and have been known to be mixed up with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress.

Moderate or middle-stage dementia. In the middle stage of dementia, symptoms become more noticeable as the disease progresses further around the brain. The person will likely need more support in managing daily life. There may also be changes into the person’s personality and behaviour. Someone with middle-stage dementia will generally need full- or part-time caregiver assistance with regular day-to-day activities. Other moderate-stage dementia symptoms include significant cognitive impairment and mood swings.

Severe or late-stage dementia. By this stage dementia will have a very severe impact on most aspects of a person’s life, including severe cognitive impairment and a loss of physical abilities. Late-onset dementia symptoms are pronounced memory loss, incontinence, and an inability to move without help.

What are the seven stages of dementia?

Healthcare providers use a comprehensive tool to assess the seven stages of dementia in elderly patients: the Global Deterioration Scale. Also known as the GDS, this trusted method enables caregivers and health professionals to determine how quickly dementia progresses in elderly patients, and which symptoms to expect during each of the seven stages of dementia. A dementia stages chart can help caregivers track and monitor their loved one’s health status against stage-related symptoms.

The seven stages of dementia are:

Stage 1: Normal
Stage 2: Forgetting
Stage 3: Mild decline
Stage 4: Moderate decline
Stage 5: Moderately severe decline
Stage 6: Severe decline
Stage 7: Very severe decline

DiagnosisStageSigns and SymptomsExpected Duration of Stage
No dementia1: No cognitive decline
  • Normal functions
  • No memory loss
N/A
No dementia2: Very mild cognitive decline
  • Forgets names
  • Misplaces familiar objects
  • Symptoms not evident to loved ones or doctors
Unknown
No dementia3: Mild cognitive decline
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Slight difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased work performance
  • Gets lost more frequently
  • Difficulty finding right words
  • Loved ones begin to notice
The average duration of this stage is between two-seven years.
Early-Stage4: Moderate cognitive decline
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgets recent events
  • Cannot manage finances
  • Cannot travel alone to new places
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • In denial about symptoms
  • Socialization problems: Withdraw from friends or family
  • Physician can detect cognitive problems
The average duration of this stage is two years.
Mid-Stage5: Moderately severe cognitive decline
  • Major memory deficiencies
  • Need assistance with daily living (dressing, bathing, etc.)
  • Forgets details like address or phone number
  • Doesn’t know time or date
  • Doesn’t know where they are
The average duration of this stage is 18 months.
Mid-stage6: Severe cognitive decline (middle dementia)
  • Cannot carry out daily living tasks without help
  • Forgets names of family members
  • Forgets recent events
  • Forgets major events in past
  • Difficulty counting down from ten
  • Incontinence (loss of bladder control)
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Personality and emotional changes
  • Delusions
  • Compulsions
  • Anxiety
The average duration of this stage is two and a half years – five years.
Late-Stage7: Very severe cognitive decline (late dementia)
  • Cannot speak or communicate
  • Require help with most activities
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Cannot walk
The average duration of this stage is 18 months – 2 and a half years.
dementia