How Fast Does Dementia Progress?

Smiling senior woman looking at and holding hands with younger woman out of focus

You may be aware that dementia is a progressive disease, meaning its effect will increase over time. But how fast does dementia progress? Understanding dementia progression is key to understanding the condition.

How Fast Does Dementia Progress?

How much do you know about dementia? One of the most important things to understand about the condition is that it is a progressive condition, which means it will affect someone who has it with more severity as time goes on. It can feel a little uncomfortable to consider, but knowing how dementia progresses can help you make the best plan to deal with the condition. So, how fast does dementia progress?

What Is Dementia?

Unfortunately, it’s challenging to provide a simple answer about how dementia will progress for a given person. That’s because dementia is not a singular condition but an umbrella term for all the different conditions that can cause cognitive difficulties for seniors. Some people assume that every senior will develop dementia as they age, but that is simply untrue. Dementia is caused by a variety of conditions that a senior may or may not have throughout their lives:

  • The most commonly diagnosed form of dementia is Alzheimer’s. This condition makes up between 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases, and it is caused by physical changes that occur in some seniors’ brains as they age.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies occurs when proteins clump in a senior’s frontal cortex, affecting logic and cognitive processes. It is similar to Alzheimer’s but has slightly different symptoms, including hallucinations and sleep disturbances.
  • Vascular dementia occurs when seniors experience a stroke or other cardiovascular event that damages the blood vessels in the brain. Vascular dementia accounts for up to 10 percent of all dementia diagnoses.
  • Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that can negatively affect the cognitive functions of the brain. It typically results in issues with motor control and movement, but it can also occasionally result in dementia symptoms.

How Does This Affect the Progression of Dementia?

Since various conditions cause dementia, it’s challenging to generalize how it will affect every person. In addition to that, the conditions that cause dementia affect everybody differently. Some people experience a quick progression of symptoms; in others, it can take years. The stages of dementia are a helpful way to track the progression of the condition:

  • The first stage of dementia is called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Forgetfulness, losing things, and even some difficulty remembering vocabulary are ordinary. Many seniors never progress past this initial stage of impairment.
  • Dementia becomes diagnosable once these cognitive slips affect a senior’s everyday life. A senior may struggle with mild dementia if they routinely forget important dates and names, can’t retain new information, and struggle with complex thinking and tasks.
  • Moderate dementia increases these traits to the point where a senior will need significant assistance with their daily tasks. In addition to existing symptoms, seniors with moderate dementia often experience agitated moods and struggle with their sense of place and time.
  • Severe dementia is the final stage of dementia. At this point, the condition will affect their motor skills and physical movements as well as their cognitive processes. Near-total care is required.


Dementia can be a frightening diagnosis for a senior, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Resources like Memory Care are here to help. If you need more information, give us a call.

Are you ready to learn more about memory care? If you’re hoping to retire in Jacksonville, Florida, the Beach House could be the ideal place. Our friendly and compassionate staff members offer individualized care 24/7, ensuring the safety, security, and happiness of all residents. The Beach House provides assisted living, memory care, and respite care. Most importantly, we tailor these services to suit the unique needs of each resident. To learn more about our amenities or schedule a tour, please get in touch with us online or give us a call at 904-615-8076. We look forward to hearing from you!