If you have a loved one who has dementia, you are probably aware that the disease progresses in stages. The various stages represent different levels of cognitive decline and what is occurring in the mind and body of the patient.
Medical professionals use the Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) scale. Did you know that many family members use it to assess the progression of dementia in a loved one?
The most effective method to use the FAST scale for dementia is to comprehend how the scale divides the progression of dementia. The scale classifies the progression of dementia into seven phases. Understanding what each stage signifies will simplify tracking your loved one’s cognitive decline and determining the appropriate course of action.
Caregiving for a person with dementia is challenging. It is time-consuming and emotionally draining at times. The FAST scale for dementia is a diagnostic tool that assists caregivers in assessing the patient’s condition to determine the best course of action.
This blog post is for anyone interested in using the FAST scale for dementia care. Everything you need to know about the FAST scale for dementia is detailed below.
What Exactly Is the Functional Assessment Staging Test?
Functional Assessment Staging Tool, or FAST, is called the Fast Scale. This is an assessment instrument used by caregivers to measure the level of functional impairment in a loved one diagnosed with dementia.
The scale is a valuable instrument that quantitatively evaluates a person’s functional capacity and documents change over time. However, the scale should not be used as the sole criterion for diagnosing dementia or distinguishing between distinct types of dementia.
The Fast Scale was created by Dr. Barry Reisberg, a prominent expert in Alzheimer’s disease. This scale is predominantly employed by healthcare professionals, physicians, and family members to comprehend, discuss, and track the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
How Does the Fast Scale Work?
The Fast Scale assesses a person’s functional changes over time.
This instrument is distinct from other cognitive decline-focused assessment tools, such as the Global Deterioration instrument (GDS). In addition, it differs from evaluation tests like the clock drawing test and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).
The Fast, functional scale emphasizes a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming, to evaluate the progression of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
What Are the Advantages of Using the Fast Scale to Diagnose Dementia?
The Fast Scale for Dementia provides helpful information regarding a person’s cognitive functioning and language skills, which can be used to determine prospective treatment strategies.
It can be used swiftly and efficiently in various settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and community services.
Although it is not intended as a stand-alone assessment instrument, it can provide valuable insights into an individual’s condition and expedite the implementation of more appropriate interventions.
When combined with other data, the Fast Scale can help healthcare professionals provide more appropriate care for those affected by this illness and give them a clearer idea of what interventions may be required to manage their patient’s symptoms.
How the Fast Scale Breaks Down Dementia Stages (How to Interpret the Fast Scale)
There are primarily three overarching phases of dementia, which are separated into seven stages:
- Early or mild stage
- Middle stage
- Late stage
Stage I (Adult with Normal Functioning)
Individuals in this stage are considered to be cognitively and functionally intact. If your family has a history of dementia and you have not displayed any symptoms of the disease, you are regarded as an average adult at this point.
Stage II (Seniors with Normal Functional Capacity)
Typically, the second stage of the FAST scale is described as “normal aged forgetfulness.” This typically manifests as straightforward memory lapses, such as forgetting where you placed your keys or what you would say during a conversation. Experts say this is a “normal” stage for elderly individuals.
In the third stage, the individual begins to exhibit mild dementia symptoms that may only be noticeable to close family and acquaintances. For instance, the individual may start repeating the same story.
If the individual continues to work, they may experience difficulty managing their job responsibilities. In addition, the individual may have trouble concentrating and completing complex tasks such as tax preparation.
Stage IV (Mild Dementia)
Most people receive a dementia diagnosis at this stage because their cognitive impairment is more severe and obvious. For instance, individuals may struggle with financial issues or neglect significant dates like birthdays and anniversaries.
At this point, the individual has difficulty performing tasks requiring the simultaneous execution of multiple steps. For instance, preparing a complicated meal becomes difficult because they must monitor too many things simultaneously.
Nonetheless, the individual retains a high degree of independence at this point.
Stage V (Mid-Stage Dementia)
At stage five, a person’s cognitive impairment has progressed to the “middle” stage, and they can no longer live independently. Although they can perform essential duties like feeding themselves, someone else must prepare their meals.
At this stage of dementia, problematic behaviors such as paranoia, hallucinations, and wandering begin to appear. The individual requires full-time assistance with daily duties and activities of daily living.
Stage VI (Moderately Severe Dementia)
This is the onset of severe or advanced dementia. In the final two stages of the seven-stage system of the Fast scale, the stages are further subdivided into subsets. Stage VI includes 6d – urinary incontinence and 6e – fecal incontinence as examples.
In Stage VI, the patient has suffered a significant cognitive decline. They rely entirely on their caretaker and require supervision and assistance around the clock.
Stage VII (Severe/End Stages) Of Dementia)
The individual’s ability to function and complete tasks deteriorates to incapacity. They are nearing the end of their lives and require constant care, including assistance with feeding and toileting.
In addition, they lose the capacity to speak and can no longer communicate. Their cognitive function continues to decline in a spiraling manner. Their body follows, and they die shortly after that.
How Should a Fast Score Be Used?
The Fast Scale is typically administered to patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s and a life expectancy of six months or less. It is essential to know when to contact hospice for patients in the advanced stages of their disease.
However, it is not uncommon for family members and caregivers to begin using the scale at an early stage to monitor the progression of the disease.
What Fast Scale Score Is Required for Hospice?
On the Fast Scale, a patient must be at stage seven in order for them to be eligible for hospice care. This is because hospice care is a type of care for terminally ill patients. It emphasizes comfort and pain management over life-extending curative treatments.
It is essential to understand how the FAST scale operates and what it measures, whether you are a patient, caregiver, or family member of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. This will enable the most precise diagnosis and treatment to be administered.
If a loved one is progressing through the FAST scale, our hospice care team can assist you in making decisions regarding their care while they can still communicate their preferences. We intend to see that these desires are carried out when the time arrives. Contact us at 1-888-635-6347 to learn how we can assist you and your family in navigating and comprehending the FAST scale of your loved one’s hospice journey.