How does dementia progress?

The speed at which dementia worsens varies a lot and is largely dependent on the type of dementia the person has. Alzheimer’s disease has the slowest progression on average, but this can vary from person to person. 
Experts categorise the progression of dementia into four different stages, from the mildest condition with subtle symptoms, to the most severe.

1) MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment)
Some of those affected by this condition will go on to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. At this stage, people often experience forgetfulness, lose things and have trouble coming up with words or names.
 
2) Mild Dementia
Although most people will be able to function independently with mild dementia, they will experience memory lapses that affect daily life.
 
3) Moderate Dementia
Those living with moderate dementia will likely need more assistance in their daily lives.
Symptoms include:
- Increased confusion
- Greater memory loss
- Needing assistance with getting dressed, bathing and grooming
- Significant personality and behavioural changes
- Changes to sleeping patterns
 
4) Severe Dementia
With more advanced dementia, symptoms include:
- A loss in the ability to communicate
- A need for full-time assistance with tasks, such as eating and getting dressed 
- A loss of physical capabilities – walking, sitting, holding one’s head up, the ability to swallow or control of bladder and bowel function
- Increased susceptibility to infections, such as pneumonia 

Each person is unique and experiences dementia in their own way. Take a look at some of the other pages in our guide, or get in touch if you need to talk.