Individuals in the dementia stage (of the cognitive severity stages listed above) have declined in ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living, which include well learned skills such as cooking, shopping for groceries, driving to familiar locations, paying bills, doing housework or home repairs, performing well learned hobbies or pastimes.

The dementia stage progresses to affect even more well learned skills, called basic activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, operating a toilet, planning to urinate or defecate so that they get to the toilet on time. Dementia finally progresses to affect walking speech, swallowing and control of the trunk, neck and face. The dementia stage is not seen in normal aging individuals and is due to one or more cognitive disorders. In Alzheimer’s Disease, the dementia stage lasts an average of 7 years.

Examples of cognitive impairment often seen during the dementia stage are:

  • Rapid forgetting of recent instructions, conversations, or events
  • Difficulty recognizing or naming common objects, familiar persons, or places
  • Difficulty communicating in one’s usual capacity
  • Difficulty making decisions or judgments such as the proper clothing to wear
  • Difficulty organizing, planning and executing tasks such as packing or planning a vacation
  • Difficulty operating familiar instruments such as a remote control, telephone, or computer

Learn more about dementia at the Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program website.