What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease
People who get Alzheimer’s disease are usually older, but the disease isnât a normal part of aging. Scientists arenât sure why some people get it and others donât. But they do know that the symptoms it causes seem to come from two main types of nerve damage:
- Nerve cells get tangles, called neurofibrillary tangles.
- Protein deposits called beta-amyloid plaques build up in the brain.
Researchers arenât sure what causes this damage or how it happens, but it could be a protein in blood called ApoE , which the body uses to move cholesterol in the blood.
There are a few types of ApoE that may be linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. It could be that certain forms of it cause brain damage. Some scientists think it plays a role in building the plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimerâs.
Whether or not ApoE partly causes Alzheimer’s, genes almost certainly play a role in the disease. Someone with a parent who had the disease is more likely to have it, too.
There is some evidence that people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol have a greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s. More rarely, head injuries may be a reason, too — the more severe they are, the greater the risk of Alzheimer’s later in life.
Scientists are still studying many of these theories, but itâs clear that the biggest risks linked to Alzheimer’s disease are being older and having Alzheimer’s in your family.
Outlook For Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia will usually get worse over time. This can happen in sudden steps, with periods in between where the symptoms do not change much, but it’s difficult to predict when this will happen.
Although treatment can help, vascular dementia can significantly shorten life expectancy.
But this is highly variable, and many people live for several years with the condition, or die from some other cause.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, remember that you’re not alone. The NHS and social services, as well as voluntary organisations, can provide advice and support for you and your family.
Variables Impacting Life Expectancy Calculations
Gender. Men dont live as long with Alzheimers as women. A study of more than 500 people diagnosed with Alzheimers disease between 1987 and 1996 found that women with Alzheimers live, on average, 20% longer than men. Age. Someone diagnosed at 65 lives an average of about eight years, while someone over 90 who gets a diagnosis typically lives about three-and-a-half more years. Strength of Symptoms at Diagnosis. If someone is showing especially severe dementia-related problems at the time of diagnosis, this usually leads to an earlier death. Someone who wanders, is prone to falling, and experiences urinary incontinence , will typically not live as long. A lower mini-mental state examination score at the time of diagnosis will also not live as long. Other Health Problems. A person with a history of heart problems or asthma or diabetes, for example, will not live as long as someone without those underlying issues.
Study Design Settings And Population
This study was performed within the Chicago Health and Aging Project , a prospective population based cohort study designed to assess the risk factors of Alzheimers dementia in the general population. The objectives and design have been reported previously. Briefly, in 1993 all residents aged 65 years and older from a geographically defined community on the south side of Chicago received an invitation to participate, and 6157 were enrolled. Starting in 2000, the CHAP study was extended with successive cohorts of residents in the study catchment area. A total of 10802 people were enrolled from 1993 to 2012. Besides the minimum age of 65 and being a resident of geographically defined research communities, no other eligibility criteria for participation in the CHAP study were applied.
The Rush University Medical Center Institutional Review Board approved this study. All participants provided informed consent to participate in this study.
What Does Age Have To Do With It
The age you are diagnosed with AD may have the greatest impact on your life expectancy. The earlier you are diagnosed, the longer you may live. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have discovered that the average survival time for people diagnosed at age 65 is 8.3 years. The average life expectancy for people diagnosed at age 90 is 3.4 years.
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The Later Stages Of Dementia
It is important to remember that not everyone living with dementia will want to know what is ahead of them. However, if youre caring for someone living with dementia, it is useful to know about the later stages of the disease so you can make decisions about future care options.
In the later stages of dementia, symptoms such as poor memory, confusion and other forms of cognitive impairment are joined by more physical symptoms.
Dementia is an illness of progressive cell damage. It starts in the parts of the brain that deal with memory and slowly moves to parts of the brain that control other functions. Sadly, this will eventually cause major organs to stop working. Below you can find a summary of some of the things you can expect when caring for someone in the later stages of dementia.
Our advice page on looking after someone with dementia might also be helpful.
Care In The Later Stages Of Dementia
There are medicines used in the early stages of dementia that manage some of the behavioural symptoms. In the later stages some of these medicines can do more harm than good causing severe side effects that can increase confusion and frailty. It also becomes harder to diagnose and manage some of the normal illnesses that older people get such as Urinary Tract Infections . UTIs can exaggerate some symptoms of dementia and increase confusion sometimes know as delirium.
Pain is also something that can be present in the later stages of dementia, but can be harder to diagnose if the person isnt able to communicate it. For all of these reasons, its important to stay vigilant when looking after someone with dementia, and to talk to the GP if you are worried about anything.
There are dementia living aids and products that can help you to care for someone living with dementia. Something like a simple dementia clock or personal alarm can make the world of difference to your life and the live of the person you care for.
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A Word About Progression
Alzheimers typically progresses slowly and transitions from mild to severe symptoms. The rate of progression varies widely between people. People with Alzheimers live an average of 4 to 8 years after their diagnosis, but some people live more than 20 years.
The risk of progressing to a higher stage increases with age. For example, in a
Improving Quality Of Life
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment is not the only determinant of quality of life. While you can’t change factors such as age at diagnosis or gender, research shows that the care that a person receives impacts life expectancy. Be sure that you explore options when it comes to creating a care plan for a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and take advantage of any support groups or other resources that may help.
Recent research indicates that factors associated with a lower quality of life for Alzheimer’s disease patients include patient depression and anxiety, and having to take multiple medicinesindicative of having other disease states to manage. Efforts to improve the quality of life for patients should include an assessment of these factors so they can be effectively addressed. Caregiver quality of life should also be assessed, especially as the disease progresses and the burden of caregiving increases.
The extent to which a person with the disease can maintain his or her social relationships can also play a large role. Patients should talk with their doctor or a psychologist for strategies to cope with social situations.
In addition, maintaining household responsibilities for as long as able can help improve the quality of life. In later stages, a patient’s needs may change, and it is important for a caregiver to know how to care for themselves in addition to their loved one.
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How Ltc Providers Can Use The Tool To Enhance Care Plans
European researchers have developed a new method for predicting survival rate ater dementia diagnosis. Using 4 simple patient characteristics, doctors can now calculate life expectancy with exceeding accuracyand without an arduous evaluation process.
Three-year survival ater dementia diagnosis can be predicted with good accuracy, the study concludes. The survival prediction tables developed in this study may aid clinicians and patients in shared decision-making and advance care planning.
Overview Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic and progressive brain disorder, accounting for 6080% of the cases in patients with dementia. Those with Alzheimer’s disease gradually display symptoms such as:
- Memory decline
- Difficulty with planning and with problem-solving
- Difficulty in completing everyday tasks
- Difficulty in concentrating and bouts of confusion
- Difficulty in comprehending spatial relationships
- Trouble with making reasonable judgments
- Difficulty in coping with unfamiliar situations
- Changes in personality and mood and
- Impulsive behavior and aggressiveness.
These symptoms are thought to be caused by changes in the brain. These changes include the development of amyloid plaques and abnormal accumulations of a protein, which disrupts connections between brain cells. Over time, brain cells die, and parts of the brain start to shrink. These changes in the brain may appear long before the diagnosis and usually begin in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s involved in learning and memory, hence why memory decline is one of the first displayed symptoms. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of those who develop Alzheimer’s disease is shortened. Keep on reading to find out what the seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease are and how our Alzheimer’s life expectancy calculator works.
The most significant known risk factor for developing Alzheimers disease is aging.
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Life Expectancy For Other Forms Of Dementia
Although Alzheimers disease is our focus here, a discussion of survival should consider other dementias as well. Survival after a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia is significantly shorter than survival after a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease. Survival lengths after a diagnosis of vascular dementia or frontotemporal dementia are intermediate. Compared to dementia, a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment is associated with a smaller reduction in life expectancy, and in many cases does not lead to Alzheimers disease and dementia.
Life expectancy after a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease varies from person to person. In the case of Genevieves mother, a white woman of age 75 at the time of her diagnosis, I estimated her expected survival to be around 6.7 years. This ballpark figure might prove correct or not since it is an estimate based on a population rather than a certainty for this individual. Having a general idea of expected survival assisted Genevieves family in facing the most probable future, planning, and valuing the preciousness of each remaining day.
Can You Lengthen Your Life
Research has shown that healthful behaviors can help you stay active and healthy into your 60s, 70s, and beyond.. Exercise is especially important for lengthening active life expectancy, which is life without disease and without physical and mental/thinking disability.. Even frail older adults can benefit from regular physical activity.. Not smoking is another pathway to a longer, healthier life.. to live longer.. The influence of genes is stronger, though, for people who live to older ages, such as beyond 95.. Instead, its the combined effects of probably hundreds of genes, each with weak effects individually, but having the right combination can lead to a very strong effect, especially for living to the oldest ages we study.
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Comparison With Other Studies
Studies that estimate life expectancy with and without Alzheimers dementia according to adherence to lifestyle factors seem to be lacking. Most of the studies in the literature have focused on calculating the overall life expectancy lived with dementia, and only a few studies have examined the role of risk factors, such as educational attainment or genetic risk . Specifically, a study in the US using a Markov model to estimate life expectancy with and without dementia showed that people with higher educational attainment have an increased life expectancy without dementia and a greater percentage of life expectancy lived without dementia. A similar investigation from Europe confirmed that people with primary education spent more time of their remaining life expectancy with dementia than those with higher education. Additionally, this study showed that the presence of the APOE 4 allele was associated with an increased number of years living with dementia in women and men. In this study, we controlled regression models for education and the APOE 4 allele and focused our investigation on modifiable risk factors, such as lifestyle factors.
Causes Of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which damages and eventually kills brain cells.
This can happen as a result of:
- narrowing and blockage of the small blood vessels inside the brain
- a single stroke, where the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly cut off
- lots of “mini strokes” that cause tiny but widespread damage to the brain
Tackling these might reduce your risk of vascular dementia in later life, although it’s not yet clear exactly how much your risk of dementia can be reduced.
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Each Persons Journey Is Different
Each person has a unique health history. This health history is directly related to how AD will affect them. Its helpful, however, to know the statistics about average life expectancy, as well as how lifestyle and age can alter that length of time.
If you are a caretaker or were recently diagnosed with AD, you can find empowerment and courage in knowing how the condition tends to progress. This allows you to plan with your family and caretakers.
Mild Impairment Or Decline
The symptoms of Alzheimers are less clear during stage 3. While the entire stage lasts about 7 years, the symptoms will slowly become clearer over a period of 2 to 4 years. Only people close to someone in this stage may notice the symptoms. Work quality will decline, and they may have trouble learning new skills.
Other examples of stage 3 symptoms and signs include:
- getting lost even when traveling a familiar route
- finding it hard to remember the right words or names
- being unable to remember what you just read
- not remembering new names or people
- misplacing or losing a valuable object
A doctor or clinician may also have to conduct a more intense interview than usual to discover cases of memory loss.
Caregiver support: At this stage, someone with Alzheimers may need counseling, especially if they have complex job responsibilities. They may experience mild to moderate anxiety and denial.
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What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a disease that robs people of their memory. At first, people have a hard time remembering recent events, though they might easily recall things that happened years ago.
As time goes on, other symptoms can appear, including:
- Trouble focusing
- A hard time doing ordinary activities
- Feeling confused or frustrated, especially at night
- Dramatic mood swings — outbursts of anger, anxiety, and depression
- Feeling disoriented and getting lost easily
- Physical problems, such as an odd walk or poor coordination
- Trouble communicating
People with Alzheimer’s might forget their loved ones. They might forget how to dress themselves, feed themselves, and use the toilet.
The disease makes brain tissue break down over time. It usually happens to people over age 65.
A person can live with Alzheimer’s disease for just a few years or for a few decades. More often, however, people live with it for about 9 years. About 1 in 8 people age 65 and over has the disease. Women are more likely to have it than men.
Alzheimers Life Expectancy Calculator: Introduction & Disclaimer
Please read and agree to the following before using the Alzheimers Life Expectancy Calculator.
This tool provides 2 results.
1) Estimated Time Until Nursing Home CareHow many months until the individual requires the level of medical care and supervision provided in a nursing home. Nursing Home Level of Care is a formal designation of a level of care, it does not mean the individual must move to a nursing home. Many persons receive nursing home level of care in their own homes.
2) Estimated Time Until DeathHow many months until the individual with Alzheimers passes. The tool is most accurate for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimers who have not had other major health conditions in the past such as a stroke.
At present this life expectancy calculator is designed only for persons diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease. Our intention is to expand it to other types of dementia as we expand the data set from which results are generated.
This tool cannot and does not attempt to provide an actual life expectancy. Rather based on the information provided by the user and the statistical information in our database, it provides a range of years and months in which individuals with similar demographics and symptoms have survived.
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