San Francisco Neurology and Sleep Center

Sleep Lab located in Chinatown, San Francisco, CA

Dementia affects 50 million people worldwide. Dementia is a term used for a collection of conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, that affect a person’s ability to think and remember. A dementia diagnosis can be difficult for patients and families alike. Joy Meng, MD, and the capable team at San Francisco Neurology and Sleep Center in Chinatown, San Francisco, help patients manage dementia and live their best possible lives. Call the clinic to learn more and request a consultation.

Dementia Q & A

What is dementia?

Dementia is a type of medical condition impacting memory, thinking, and social interactions. Dementia includes diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal disorders. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s. 

Most dementias are progressive diseases, meaning that symptoms get more severe over time. At first, you may notice difficulty remembering appointments, directions, or where you put your wallet. Later on, symptoms can include confusion, disorientation, and difficulty communicating. 

One of the most noticeable signs of dementia is forgetfulness, but dementia is not a natural part of growing older. When you have dementia, the part of your brain responsible for learning and memory suffers damage or disease. While there is no known cure for dementia, early detection and diagnosis give patients the best chance at treatment to maintain a good quality of life long-term. 

What are the stages of dementia?

Many types of dementia have stages of progression. However, every patient is different and the length and severity of stages can vary. 

No dementia

In stages 1-3 of dementia, patients experience no signs or very mild signs of dementia. You may notice mild forgetfulness, but memory loss is not significant. This stage can last for many years.

Mild cognitive impairment can develop at this point, and loved ones may begin to notice forgetfulness. Signs include:

  • Increased memory loss
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty managing complex tasks
  • Verbal repetition

Early-stage dementia

Early-stage dementia, or stage 4, is moderate cognitive decline. This stage typically lasts about two years. Many patients are first diagnosed with dementia during this stage. Symptoms include:

  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Difficulty remembering words or names
  • Trouble with short-term memory
  • Forgetting the date or time
  • Increased depression or anxiety

Mid-stage dementia

Stages 5-6 are considered mid-stage dementia and can last anywhere from two to 10 years. At this point, you need assistance with daily activities. Symptoms of mid-stage dementia include:

  • Agitation
  • Delusions
  • Problems sleeping
  • Wandering or getting lost
  • Behaving inappropriately in social interactions
  • Forgetting personal details

Late-stage dementia

The final stage of dementia, stage 7, lasts about two and a half years. Losing the ability to speak and walk are common in this stage. The focus of care is comfort and maintaining quality of life. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of speech
  • Angry outbursts

How can I decrease my risk of developing dementia?

You can’t completely prevent dementia, but you can take steps to keep your brain healthy as you age. Research shows that keeping your mind active can prevent or postpone the development of many dementias. 

Some beneficial lifestyle habits include:

  • Staying physically active
  • Engaging in social activities
  • Managing health conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Not smoking

Activities that keep your brain and body active can prevent or slow the development of dementia. Reading and playing games help keep your mind sharp. You should aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day to keep your body healthy.

If you or a loved one is experiencing increased forgetfulness, visit San Francisco Neurology and Sleep Center, Inc. The team can help you understand your risk of developing dementia and how to manage the condition. Book an appointment for compassionate dementia care today.