Dementia is a life altering condition. There are a number of different diseases that cause dementia. While the different types of dementia may progress at varying rates, there is a relatively consistent progression that is common to all types of dementia. This sequence is often described as the stages of dementia. The stages are important because they define the level of independence of a person living with dementia and they also help the caregiver and loved ones as they try to understand what it takes to care for someone who has dementia. Additionally, as most dementia is progressive over time, knowing the stages of dementia can also provide a sense of insight into what to expect next.
This is the most controversial stage of dementia. Subclinical dementia means that a person is highly likely to develop dementia and has not begun to have any symptoms of dementia. Subclinical dementia is also often referred to as pre-clinical dementia. People who have a strong family history of dementia or who have a genetic condition that predisposes to dementia are described as having subclinical dementia. The reason that this stage of dementia is controversial is that the diagnostic testing for preclinical dementia is very expensive and not reliable. This leaves many people who may have preclinical dementia without solid answers one way or another. And none of the medications that are approved for treatment of dementia have been shown to have any benefit for preclinical dementia. Nevertheless, medications have certainly not been proven to cause any harm in preclinical dementia, which complicates matters even further.
Overall, if you suspect that you or a loved one has preclinical dementia, it is best to focus on methods that have been already proven effective in the prevention of dementia.
Next: Early Stage Dementia