All types of dementia are progressive. This means that while symptoms may at first be mild, they deteriorate with time. As dementia progresses, a person with this condition will need increasingly more help and support with daily living. Dementia affects every individual differently. This includes their experience of the symptoms, the rate at which the condition progresses (which itself varies across the different types of dementia), and the type and level of support required.
There are several stages of dementia. In all types of dementia, memory problems are the early signs. The deterioration in cognitive skills is gradual and in later stages, daily activities will become increasingly challenging without assistance.
Dementia progression can generally be classified into three stages – the mild, moderate, and advanced stages. These stages are a simplified explanation on how dementia symptoms change over time, and can be used as a guide to help persons living with dementia and their loved ones prepare for the future. It may be difficult to place a person’s condition in a specific stage as symptoms may appear in a different order and stages may overlap.1 However, understanding the stages as such helps us see how dementia progresses in general.
The following provides an overall idea of how the symptoms affect a person living with dementia and change across the three stages: