Navigating the FAST Scale: A Breakdown of the Seven Stages of Dementia

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

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If you’ve been around an elderly relative given a dementia diagnosis, you may very well have encountered the condition characterized in terms of “stages.” Such multiple stages are accustomed to indicate how the condition has advanced and the changes that are presently occurring to their mental and physical health. Fundamentally, it assists caregivers, medical practitioners, and close relatives in understanding what really is going on with their elderly family members and bracing them for future as well as present changes.

FAST Scale — What It Is?

The Functional Assessment Staging Tool, popularly recognized as FAST, is a scale designed by Dr. Barry Reisberg, a notable expert in Alzheimer’s disease. It can be utilized to help clinicians, medical practitioners, and families comprehend, discuss, and track the development of cognitive decline in dementias including Alzheimer’s disease.

How Does the FAST Scale Help in Assessing the Level of Functioning?

As with other measures that are closely linked with cognitive or functional decline, the said functional assessment staging scale, FAST, is engaged with an individual’s ability to perform complex tasks and complete everyday living activities.

The FAST Scale: A Tool for Diagnosing Dementia

The majority of us have known of the three stages of dementia: early or initial stage, moderate stage, and end-stage. The functional assessment staging (FAST) scale, primarily, delves deeper into every one of these stages, dividing them into more understandable and comprehensive characterizations.

Understanding Dementia Stages With FAST Scale

The FAST Scale categorizes dementia into seven distinct stages. They are as follows:

Stage 1: Normally Functioning Adult

For this stage, this denotes the absence of cognitive and functional decline. In a nutshell, they are normal, intellectually healthy persons of any age. You are also most probable to be in Stage 1 if you’re an immediate family member of someone who has dementia.

Stage 2: Normally Functioning Senior Adult

Normal aging forgetfulness, demonstrated by short-term memory loss, is characterized as the second phase of the FAST Scale. People may have difficulties concentrating and finding the correct words at times, or even for names and misplacing things.  Stage 2 is however regarded as still normal in elderly individuals, as per professionals.

Stage 3: Early Dementia

At this point, the person begins to exhibit moderate cognitive deficits in a deliberate manner that might only become apparent to immediate family and friends. One is that, if the person is still employed, their capacity to fulfill their duties will begin to deteriorate. It becomes more challenging for them to focus on their work, and the decreased job functioning evident in their concentration, and they may find it difficult to complete tasks that are too demanding.

Stage 4: Mild Dementia

The majority of people living with dementia are typically diagnosed around stage 4 when symptoms of cognitive decline become painfully obvious. The person begins to forget recent or important events or struggles to recall the time. In this phase, people still have a considerable amount of autonomy and can recall things, but it gets harder for them to manage excessively complex things. The senior is deemed to be in the initial stages of dementia at this point.

Stage 5: Mid-stage Dementia

The dementia patient has advanced to the intermediate stage in Stage 5 and cannot live independently. They can still, however, do some functional activities for seniors with dementia, like feeding themselves, but usually require a helping hand to make their meals. At this point, undesirable behaviours including confusion, roaming, hallucinations, and self – doubt may start to appear. Also, those who have dementia will need a full-time caregiver and will progressively grow more dependent.

Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia

Regrettably, stage 6 can be regarded as the start of late-stage or even moderately severe dementia stage. The individual will grow so reliant on their caregivers that they’ll need constant attention as well as help with almost everything. They might begin to lose their capacity to talk, and their movement problems could get worse. At this point, a lot of caregivers and relatives decide it is indeed essential to put the patient in hospice care or a community with a focus on memory care which you can explore as you visit this guide.

Stage 7: Severe (End Stage) Dementia

Stage 7, the final stage of this cognitive disease, unfortunately, is the point at which a person’s capacity for speech may eventually disappear altogether. Infirm with no ability to walk, the elderly will lose their residual abilities. It will eventually be difficult to communicate with anyone, and their body systems will begin to shut down, and inevitably face death.

How Does the FAST Scale Help in Dementia Diagnosis?

When using the FAST Scale, it is indeed interesting to note that if a person has Alzheimer’s disease, all changes they go through will happen in the correct order—FAST stages won’t be missed. Alzheimer’s disease is not to blame for a person’s problems if they preserve abilities from a previous stage while losing some of the specified abilities later on. In a similar vein, the functional assessment staging test is very beneficial because it implies that their condition may be curable.

Is There a Timeframe for Each FAST Stage?

In reality, there is no predetermined time frame for how long someone will remain in each FAST stage. In essence, every person’s experience with memory loss is varied, and each person would spend a diverse and interesting period within every stage.

It is virtually hard to predict how long a person will survive with dementia, even though it is primarily a degenerative and deadly disease. While it is true that hospice care or dementia care Singapore can be immensely beneficial for people with advanced dementia, many family caregivers are unaware that their seniors may be eligible. 

Indeed, a  dementia diagnosis may prove to be a life-changing and frightening experience for all those affected. However, they may experience feeling more informed and prepared for the changes that come with memory loss by employing the FAST Scale to assess one’s dementia.

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