← Back to Blog

How Memory Care Can Help with Stages of Dementia

senior man in memory care looks through a photo album with health care worker

A senior diagnosed with dementia will have different needs throughout the varied stages of their condition. A thoughtful plan can help slow the progression, and the right care can make each stage easier. A Life Plan Community, also known as a continuing care retirement community or CCRC, provides escalating levels of care depending on the resident’s needs. This memory care model provides peace of mind for the resident and their family members.

7 Stages of Dementia


Stage 1: Pre-Symptomatic

At this stage, sometimes called pre-clinical, a senior won’t show signs of dementia. Tests can reveal the condition, but the person diagnosed with dementia can still actively participate in future planning. This is a great time to discuss with family members what the senior wants over time. If they think memory care at a senior living community might be right for them, they can take their loved ones to explore Life Plan Communities and discuss what options each community offers to progress through levels of care.

Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Symptoms

A person with dementia may experience some basic forgetfulness during this stage. The symptoms may seem like normal aging indicators — spacing on people’s names or misplacing objects — because the person can still work, take care of themselves, and maintain their relationships.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Symptoms

The senior may experience noticeable challenges outside the realm of normal aging. For this reason, many people seek and receive a diagnosis. Examples of the difficulties people face at this stage include:

  • Uncertainty and confusion in social settings
  • Challenges with organizing and sticking to plans
  • Trouble retaining information they recently read

This stage can create anxiety for the senior and their loved ones, but establishing and following a care plan can help delay the dementia’s progression. At this time, a senior could choose to move into assisted living. At Presbyterian Homes, assisted living residents can receive memory support. With this level of care, residents enjoy the community lifestyle with only the amount of care they need.

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Symptoms

This stage can last for several years. The senior may show signs that dementia is affecting more than just the parts of their brain that influence memory. Beyond memory loss, they may have difficulty with calculations, organization or language, which can create added trouble with managing their finances or performing daily tasks. Signs of dementia at this stage will likely be:

  • Wandering more often
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Confusion about time and location
  • Inappropriate clothing choices
  • Moodiness or depression

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Symptoms

Stage 5 often brings decreased independence. During this stage, family members may consider consistent, expert memory care a necessity. The senior might not recognize loved ones. They may require assistance with everyday tasks, such as dressing and grooming. This stage will likely be the first time you notice significant emotional changes. They may become more paranoid, thinking others are against them. They may experience delusional thinking, or even hallucinations.

Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Symptoms

During stage 6, the senior may need assistance going to the restroom or eating. They will find communication more of a challenge. They can still use words, but explaining their thoughts and ideas will become more difficult. For example, they may not be able to describe where they feel pain. They might experience more frequent hallucinations or delusions, and they may become more easily frustrated with those around them. An expert memory care team will have the training and resources to help a senior through these experiences and find moments of joy or contentment — even in late-stage dementia.

Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Symptoms

In stage 7, dementia can cause significant physical impairment because the mind can’t communicate with the body as well as it used to. With reduced mobility, they will likely need 24-hour care.

If you’d like to know more about the residential care options at Presbyterian Homes, including memory care with highly trained team members, reach out to us. Our team is passionate about easing the journey through all stages of dementia for both the senior and their family members.