This blog post will discuss the seven stages of dementia as influenced by the Global Deterioration Scale and the Functional Assessment Staging Test or Tool. There is a three stage model, which is Early, Middle, Late which is definitely helpful when talking about some forms of dementia. However, this blog post focuses on the 7-stage model.
Most staging tools are created with Alzheimer's disease in mind. That means if your partner has some other type of dementia, their symptoms may look a little bit different and deviate from what the tools outline. However, as their dementia progresses, you may start noticing overlap between the stages and what you see in your partner living with dementia.
Also, please keep in mind that dementia affects everyone differently. The phrase, "When you've met one person with dementia, you've only met one person with dementia." is very true. Not only are we as humans just unique in our own right, but you have to remember dementia is affecting the brain. Therefore, depending on how the brain is being affected, different things can present.
When you listen to these stages, I don't want you to think of them as these concrete, rigid stages. Instead, think of them as a basic framework to kind of inform you of what to look out for. I want you to think of it as dementia being progressive and worsening over time. But, I don't want you to think that your partner has to fall into this specific number because sometimes people get really caught up on figuring out "what stage their partner is at," and in some cases, it like impairs their ability to care for their partner. I want you to keep in mind that we're caring for a person, not a stage. I'm going to say that again, we're caring for a person, not a stage. Okay? So, please don't get too caught up on "what stage is my partner."
Now, some people don't like staging at all, because they say, "Oh, well, you know, people are not numbers and you can't reduce them to that." Or sometimes they think of stages as focusing on the losses and what the person's lacking instead of focusing on the strengths. I personally like the staging system because it is helpful in informing you of what to expect so that there's no shock factor. I also like the stages because it kind of highlights the fact that dementia is terminal, it's progressive, it worsens over time. A lot of people don't realize that and so as the dementia progresses, they get really shocked and surprised by some of the things and behaviors and symptoms that they start seeing because they didn't realize it could get that "ugly," right? But, the stages kind of help you be aware of what may be to come.
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