Dementia, commonly referred to with the catch-all name Alzheimer’s, has reached epidemic levels in the United States. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It’s irreversible and ultimately fatal, slowly robbing people of their memory and ability to function in day-to-day life.

There are common warning signs that can help family identity loved ones at risk, many go beyond some minor forgetfulness. Understanding the THREE STAGES of COGNITIVE DECLINE, mild, moderate, and severe, can help families cope and seek care in a more effective way.

The characteristics of each stage are:

Mild Decline: People with dementia in mild decline generally have difficulty with things like managing bank statements and paying bills on time. They may have trouble remembering some basic words and may often misplace common items (read things beyond car keys.) This stage can last several years, and possibly not get any worse. It is important to factor in lifestyle issues such as increased stress of major life changes that can impact memory loss as well.

Moderate Decline: Financial skills deteriorate in a more noticeable way in this stage. Mild agitation, frustration over seemingly minor things like those around them remembering events differently, and social withdrawal are warning indicators. This is also where family will notice events of wandering of their loved one feeling misplaced.

Severe Decline: Severe memory loss worsens in this stage and is usually remarkable. Short-term memory loss is noticeable especially when a loved one repeats things they said only a moment ago, only as if they had just said it the first time. Significant mood swings and personality changes become apparent and the individual might need help from a caregiver to eat or bathe. It is also common to see loss in speech and communication capability.

Understanding the cycle and stages of dementia is the first step to getting the right help, and taking the right action to help loved ones. Guarding against elder abuse and financial exploitation to preserve resources for care becomes the top priority for care givers. Having a financial planning team can help caregivers know where everything is and what it is worth.

If you would like assistance assembling your team, feel free to reach out to me via email at will at sdp-planning dot com.

Slate, Disharoon, Parrish and Associates, LLC, is located in Knoxville, Feel free to contact SDP Partner, Will Parrish with questions via email or directly by phone at (865) 357-7373. Visit their website,

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisers, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.  Slate, Disharoon, Parrish & Associates, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated.