The Early, Middle and Late Stages of Dementia

September 19, 2017

Dementia is a general term used to indicate that a person has developed difficulties with reasoning, judgment, and memory. Irreversible dementia is chronic and progressive. People who have dementia usually have some memory loss and difficulty with at least one other area, such as:

  • Speaking or writing coherently (or understanding what is said or written)
  • Recognizing familiar surroundings
  • Planning and carrying out multi-step tasks

In order to be considered dementia, these changes must be severe enough to interfere with a person’s independence and daily activities.

Dementia can be caused by several diseases that affect the brain. The most common cause of irreversible dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of all cases of dementia. There are many different types of dementia; it’s important that you discuss your specific diagnosis with your healthcare provider.

Early Stage Dementia

“Early stage” refers to people, irrespective of age, who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders and are in the beginning stages of the disease. A person in the early stages may experience mild changes in the ability to think and learn, but he or she continues to participate in daily activities and give-and-take dialogue. To others, the person may not appear to have dementia. The early stages of Alzheimer’s can last for years.

Middle-Stage Dementia

During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, damage to the brain can make it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. You may notice the person with Alzheimer’s jumbling words, having trouble dressing, getting frustrated or angry, or acting in unexpected ways, such as refusing to bathe.

While these changes are difficult for everyone involved, resources are available to help both you and the person with dementia as the disease progresses. There will be challenging days, but there also will be good days. As your relationship with the person with dementia changes, you will find new ways to connect and deepen your bond.

Late-Stage Dementia

As the disease advances, the needs of the person living with Alzheimer’s will change and deepen.

  • A person with late-stage Alzheimer’s usually:
  • Has difficulty eating and swallowing
  • Needs assistance walking and eventually is unable to walk
  • Needs full-time help with personal care
  • Is vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia
  • Loses the ability to communicate with words

Courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association (

How BrightStar Care can help

BrightStar Care® is your solution for professional care for early, middle, and late-stage dementia care. Our mission is to provide your loved one living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia the individualized care and support they need to:

  • Live with Dignity and Purpose safely and securely in their own home
  • Enjoy Optimal Health and emotional well-being
  • Maintain Connections to the people, places, things, and memories that matter most to them

We call this specialized approach “BrightStar Connections”

BrightStar Connections is the Only In-Home Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care Program of its Kind, and truly is A Higher Standard of Memory Care.

Call today to talk with one of our professional care experts, or click here to learn more about the BrightStar Care person-centered approach to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care.