Can You Suffer From Mild Dementia?

Did you know that between 15 and 20 percent of adults over the age of 65 may suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI)? This means, that although they may notice changes in cognition, they are not typically severe enough to interfere with everyday life or the ability to function independently.

In some cases, these individuals will go on to develop dementia symptoms which are progressive in nature, and when this occurs, the earliest stages will yield signs associated with mild dementia.

If you have been wondering, is there such thing as ‘mild dementia’ — then this guide is for you. Learn what the stages of dementia are, as well as what you can potentially do about the symptoms you or your loved one are currently experiencing.

Is It Possible to Have ‘Mild’ Dementia?

While focusing on the most common type of dementia, which is Alzheimer’s, it’s important to note that this disease is degenerative and progressive. Over time, symptoms will worsen and currently, there isn’t a cure. As you would expect with any progressive condition, a patient will go through key stages.

When an individual is functioning within the earliest stages, this is what’s known as mild dementia — but how does it differ in terms of MCI?

As mentioned, MCI does not typically interfere with everyday life — even though cognitive impairment is apparent. In comparison, mild dementia will affect more than one cognitive domain and interference with daily life will become evident. There is a fine line between mild dementia in terms of being the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s and MCI — which is why it’s important to be aware of the stages of dementia:

  1. Stage one — this stage includes healthy individuals who exhibit no memory loss and no symptoms of dementia. Overall, no cognitive decline will be apparent.

  1. Stage two — this stage will exhibit very mild cognitive decline and is typically associated with the aging process. At this point, symptoms will not be evident to a physician or loved ones.

  1. Stage three — from this point, individuals will begin to experience mild dementia, as they display increased forgetfulness, including reduced work performance. At this point, the average duration before the onset of dementia is 7 years.

  1. Stage four — this stage will cause individuals to struggle in a number of areas, including the ability to manage their finances and travel alone. Some patients will be in denial, whereas others will begin to withdraw from loved ones — as socializing becomes increasingly difficult. This is what’s known as moderate cognitive decline.

  1. Stage five — at this point, patients will need assistance bathing, dressing, preparing meals, etc. Memory loss will be highly apparent, as patients may not know where they are or what day it is.

  1. Stage six — moving into stage six, individuals will be suffering from middle dementia and will require extensive assistance. Many will remember the details of their early years, but typically have no memory of more recent events or even the names of their loved ones. Personality changes can take effect and delusions may surface.

  1. Stage seven — known as late dementia, patients cannot generally communicate and even their ability to walk. Symptoms will be very severe in relation to cognitive decline.

When Living with Mild Dementia

Mild dementia

Source: Pexels

Depending on the cause of one’s mild dementia, progression will differ — but when dealing with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, understanding what to expect can help both you and your loved ones prepare. If you or a loved one were just recently diagnosed, here are some practical tips:

  • Share your experience and feelings — although it can be frightening and you may not want to worry others, speaking about your diagnosis can be extremely beneficial. This is particularly true in terms of alleviating some the anxiety you may feel, as you plan for the future.

  • Understand you’re still ‘you’ — don’t automatically feel defeated, as you’re still the same person you were prior to your diagnosis. You will still showcase key strengths and interests, so focus on those aspects of your life. If there are activities that you now find more challenging, create supportive strategies.

  • Stay healthy — if you live a healthy lifestyle, you will not only feel better, but you can potentially slow down the progression of your symptoms. This will include a nutrient-dense, balanced diet; optimal sleep patterns; avoiding harmful habits, such as smoking and binge drinking; managing stress levels; staying socially connected; and being more physically active.

  • Manage your triggers — is there something that causes you to become agitated? Do certain factors in your life cause you to stress out? When you understand what it is that triggers problematic feelings and behaviors, then you can better control them.

According to UCLA, There May Be Hope

Mild dementia

Source: Pexels

Although this study was small (n=10), for the first time, memory loss associated with cognitive decline was reversed. Using a 36-point program, involving dietary changes, exercise, brain stimulation, sleep optimization, vitamins, and other supportive steps, memory loss was reversed in the patients studied.

Based on the past few decades of research, it has become evident that molecular interactions are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Meaning, a broader approach will likely be necessary in comparison to a single drug that will treat one’s symptoms.

At this point, available drugs tend to influence a singular target, however, we know that Alzheimer’s is much more complex. Based on this encouraging research, a patient’s treatment was personalized. Some key components of the program included, but were not limited to:

  • meditating twice a day, reducing high levels of stress

  • eliminating carbohydrates and processed foods, consuming more fruits, vegetables, and non-farmed fish

  • taking melatonin, vitamin D3, and fish oil

  • exercising for 30 minutes, 4-6 times a week

  • practicing optimal oral hygiene

Published in Aging, it was stated that improvements among patients were sustained, with the longest follow-up being two and a half years from the initial onset of treatment, showcasing sustained improvement. The lead author concluded that this study needs to be recreated on a larger scale and that during the early stages of cognitive decline, metabolic processes may play a role.

Regardless of your current situation, if you notice that something just isn’t quite right, please speak to a medical professional immediately. The best possible course of action is early intervention and based on evolving research, who knows what the future will hold for those diagnosed.


Krista Hillis has a B.A.Sc degree, specializing in neuroscience and psychology. She is actively involved in the mental health and caregiving community, aiming to help others. Krista is also passionate about nutrition and the ways in which lifestyle choices affect and influence the human brain.

Comments (3)
  1. Sarah Mihailoska

    Thanks for continuing share your insights on dementia. I have been a silent subscriber and learner as I am caregiver for seniors with mild dementia. I just wanted to convey my regards and thank you in the comment

  2. Connie Lianandonakis

    I- started
    Losing short term memory about two months ago. They recently diaper scan and diagnosed me with early onset of Alzheimer’s. I’m a little worried. What can I do?

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