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How Long Can An Elderly Person Live With Dementia

Why Knowing Life Expectancy Is Useful

How long does dementia last?

Knowing what to expect, including life expectancy helps with planning. Someone predicted to survive for five or six years, as opposed to two years, will want to make more extensive plans, including getting an estate in order, activity planning, and budget. Knowing how quickly the disease is expected to progress symptomatically can impact care decisions. If the disease is predicted to come on very quickly, for example, then skipping traditional assisted living and looking into memory care or a nursing home might be the best option.

Knowing when full-time care becomes a requirement, either at-home or in a memory care residence, is especially useful given the high cost of care. It is estimated that 50% of nursing home residents have some level of dementia and over 60% of nursing home residents care is paid for by Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility is complicated, and families can spend up to 5 years waiting for a loved one with dementia to become Medicaid-eligible. Therefore, knowing how soon care is required can make a huge financial difference.

Contribute anonymously to our dementia life expectancy database. Start here.

How Many Stages Of Dementia Are There

There are several different types of Dementia, with Alzheimers disease being the most common. Though when it comes to the different stages of Dementia, we can typically categorise the trajectory of the disease as mild, moderate or severe.

Although this three stage model is useful for providing an overview of early, middle and final stages of Dementia, most people prefer a seven stage model that breaks cognitive decline down into seven specific categories. The progression of Dementia will be different for everyone, but knowing where a loved one falls on this scale can help to identify signs and symptoms, whilst also determining the most appropriate care needs. So, what are the 7 stages of Dementia?

Lewy Body Dementia Prognosis

Lewy body dementia is a form of dementia characterized by the development of abnormal deposits in the brain. People with Lewy body dementia have trouble with movement as well as cognitive decline. Thinking problems generally show up before movement problems. As Lewy body dementia progresses, affected individuals may also experience visual and sleep problems.

Life expectancy for a person with is approximately 2 to 8 years after the onset of noticeable symptoms.

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Can A Person With Dementia Live Alone

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Many adult children and caregivers whose parent have some form of dementia struggle with the decision as to whether or not their family members can continue living on their own or if it is time to move on to another form of housing or caregiving status.

End Of Life Dementia Care And Covid

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Older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Older adults also have the highest rates of dementia. Given the risks that older adults face from both COVID-19 and dementia, its important to understand how to protect yourself and your loved one. Find more information about dementia and COVID-19 from the CDC.

When a dementia like Alzheimers disease is first diagnosed, if everyone understands that there is no cure, then plans for the end of life can be made before thinking and speaking abilities fail and the person with Alzheimers can no longer legally complete documents like advance directives.

End-of-life care decisions are more complicated for caregivers if the dying person has not expressed the kind of care he or she would prefer. Someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimers disease might not be able to imagine the later stages of the disease.

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Hospice Care For Advanced Dementia: When Is It Time

Hospice has long been known for the ability to provide comfort and dignity throughout the dying process. Sadly, too few people are aware that a person does not have to be dying from cancer or experiencing excruciating pain in order to take advantage of end-of-life care. Hospice care is effective for patients suffering from a wide variety of chronic conditions, including heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , stroke, renal failure, liver failure and even dementia.

Unlike other serious illnesses, Alzheimers disease and related dementias are extremely difficult to categorize into the neat stages of progression that are typically used to determine whether hospice care is appropriate. Life expectancy is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint for patients affected by AD or other forms of cognitive impairment, such as vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Furthermore, patients in the later stages of these conditions are usually unable to communicate pain, discomfort, wants and needs. This means that family caregivers and even their loved ones physicians can have a tough time deciding when to call in hospice.

Alzheimer’s Disease And Dementia Life Expectancy

Researchers in 2016 estimated that there were 43.8 million people in the world with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia27 million women and 16.8 million men. These numbers are growing rapidly. In fact, it’s expected to more than double to 100 million by 2050. Here’s what you should know about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia life expectancy.

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What You Can Do For Your Loved One

As an individual with dementia declines, you can help them by providing a loving and supportive presence. Sit with them. Hold their hand. Play music they enjoy.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your loved one is helping to get their affairs in order. Ensure that financial and healthcare powers of attorney are put in place, so you can make decisions when your loved one is no longer able. Look into funeral arrangements before you need them, so you dont need to make important decisions in a time of crisis.

Talk to your loved ones physician about the possibility of palliative care support in the home and hospice care when your loved one is ready.

Three Major Phases Of Alzheimers Disease

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The brains of people who are later diagnosed with Alzheimers begin changing a long time before disease symptoms appear. This is called the preclinical phase of the disease.

The National Institutes on Aging defines the three stages of Alzheimers disease as:

  • Mild : During the initial phase of Alzheimers, your loved one might still live independently. That may include working, driving and participating in a social life. But the person might sense that something is different. They may
  • Forget recent events or the names of familiar people
  • Have difficulty with numbers
  • Major changes in the individuals personality
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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.

    How Is Dementia Treated

    Treatment of dementia depends on its cause. For example, dementia that has developed due to vitamin deficiency can be treated with vitamin supplements and hence is reversible. Other causes of dementia such as depression, thyroid problems can also be treated.

    For progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, no treatment can halt its progression, and research is still going on to find out the same. But, some medications may temporarily help relieve its symptoms such as memory loss and confusion. These are:

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    How Long Can A Person With Dementia Live

    Generally speaking, the consensus amongst medical professionals is that, in general, a person with dementia or Alzheimers disease lives with the disease for about 10 years. This is a very general number, though.

    Dementia is often called a life limiting condition although people have been known to live with it for as long as 26 years after they first start showing symptoms.

    But of course, this depends on multiple factors

    • other medical conditions the person has
    • the specific type of dementia the person is afflicted with
    • the living conditions, degree of social isolation, amount and type of support and home care the person has

    Time From Diagnosis To Institutionalization And Death In People With Dementia

    How Long Can a Dementia Patient Live at Home?

    Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of General Practice and Elderly Care Medicine, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Correspondence

    Karlijn J. Joling, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of General Practice and Elderly Care Medicine, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, Van der Boechorststraat 7, Amsterdam 1081 BT, The Netherlands.

    Olin Janssen

    Alzheimer Centre Limburg, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

    Anneke L. Francke

    Nivel, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands

    Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Pieter-Jelle Visser

    Alzheimer Centre Limburg, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

    Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Neurology, Alzheimer Centre Amsterdam, Amsterdam Neuroscience, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Hein P.J. van Hout

    Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of General Practice and Elderly Care Medicine, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Correspondence

    Olin Janssen

    Anneke L. Francke

    Pieter-Jelle Visser

    Hein P.J. van Hout

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    What Are Specific Care Needs At Each Stage

    An individual may not require care assistance after the initial diagnosis of dementia, but that will change as the disease progresses and symptoms become worse. There are about 16 million unpaid caregivers of people with dementia in the United States. While many caregivers are providing daily help for family members, they also hire someone to help. There are many options of care assistance, such as in-home care, adult day care, and nursing home care. There is also financial assistance available.

    Early Stage DementiaAs mentioned above, in the early stage of dementia a person can function rather independently and requires little care assistance. Simple reminders of appointments and names of people may be needed. Caregivers can also assist with coping strategies to help loved ones remain as independent as possible, such as writing out a daily to-do list and a schedule for taking medications. Safety should always be considered, and if any tasks cannot be performed safely alone, supervision and assistance should be provided. During this period of dementia, its a good idea for caregivers and loved ones to discuss the future. For example, a long-term care plan should be made and financial and legal matters put in place.

    Main Findings And Interpretation

    This study is one of the largest that examined the trajectories of persons with dementia in linked routine nationally representative administrative databases. Until now, reliable estimates from high-quality studies are scarce, but are important to help to inform patients and their families about probable care trajectories and policymakers to optimize the allocation of resources.

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    Vascular Dementia Signs And Symptoms

    Vascular dementia affects different people in different ways and the speed of the progression also varies from person to person. Some symptoms may be similar to those of other types of dementia and usually reflect increasing difficulty to perform everyday activities like eating, dressing, or shopping.

    Behavioral and physical symptoms can come on dramatically or very gradually, although it appears that a prolonged period of TIAsthe mini-strokes discussed aboveleads to a gradual decline in memory, whereas a bigger stroke can produce profound symptoms immediately. Regardless of the rate of appearance, vascular dementia typically progresses in a stepwise fashion, where lapses in memory and reasoning abilities are followed by periods of stability, only to give way to further decline.

    Common Signs and Symptoms of Vascular Dementia
    Mental and Emotional Signs and Symptoms
    • Slowed thinking
    • Language problems, such as difficulty finding the right words for things
    • Getting lost in familiar surroundings
    • Laughing or crying inappropriately
    • Difficulty planning, organizing, or following instructions
    • Difficulty doing things that used to come easily
    • Reduced ability to function in daily life

    Support Family And Loved Ones

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    It is vital that the persons family and loved ones are aware that the person may be in the last few days or hours of life. Share information in a gentle and sensitive manner, drawing on those staff who have the strongest relationships with the person and their family. Giving family members space to explore their feelings and concerns is a critical part of good end-of-life care.

    Often, family and loved ones want to be present when the person dies. They should know that changes can happen suddenly and the person may die, for example, when they have just popped out of the room to use the bathroom.

    Sometimes, family members may not want to be present at the death. Family and relatives should never feel that they should stay, but always give them the opportunity to stay and to be involved in care as they wish.

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    What Do Elderly People Think About Life And Death

    As we get older, death seems to be nearer than when we are younger. In as much as anyone can die regardless of age, for an older person, it seems like it is more likely to happen, especially when dealing with different health conditions that the body does not handle as it used to in the younger years.

    For older persons, death does not always spell sorrow and terror, as is the case with younger people. Many of the older people are contented with what the short-term future has for them. You may think that people may get anxious as they become older, but this is not the case. Older people do not have much sadness and anxiety, especially related to death. They are actually more positive about life and death.

    As we grow older, our perspective shifts. This is when you realize that things are not as they always seem. Most people fear death because they feel that they will lose the things that they have been working so hard to get over the years. However, for older people, this attachment to things acquired is not really pronounced. This is how some of the fear of death actually melts away.

    When you look around you and you realize that there are things that are a part of you that will outlive you actually help in a major way. This could be the legacy we have in children or gardens planted. There are yet others who place value on their country, their religion, or families that live on even after they are gone.

    Support Care Staff And Colleagues

    It is important to remember that staff caring for a person in the last hours and days of their life may find this to be emotionally challenging or distressing. This may be especially so for those who have worked with the person for some time and who have built a meaningful relationship with that person and their family. Those newer to care work, or who have little previous experience of care at the end of life, may find this a worrying or stressful time. It is important that care staff are given support by managers and colleagues, are able to ask for advice and reassurance where needed, and have the space to acknowledge their feelings.

    See End of life care and carers’ needs for more information.

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    Working When You Have Dementia

    If you’ve received a dementia diagnosis, you may be worried about how you’ll cope at work. You should speak to your employer as soon as you feel ready.

    In some jobs, such as the armed forces, you must tell your employer. If you’re unsure, check your employment contract.

    You can also get advice from the disability employment adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus, your trade union or your local Citizens Advice service. If you decide to leave work, seek advice about your pensions and benefits.

    If you want to continue to work, speak to your employer about what adjustments can be made to help you, such as:

    • changes to your working hours
    • scheduling meetings at different times
    • changing to a different role that may be less demanding

    Under the Equality Act 2010, your employer has to make “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace to help you do your job.

    Find out more about working and dementia from Alzheimers Society

    Getting Prepared For A Death

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    Care staff need to know the persons wishes for their death: where they would prefer to be when they die, who should be present, how pain might be treated, and so on. A persons spiritual and cultural needs are important throughout their life, but may take on a particular significance at the end of their life. We can only support a person nearing death properly if we know this information and have recorded it accurately so they have the best possible, and personalised, end-of-life care

    Ensuring that a person is as physically comfortable as possible when they are dying also takes preparation. Is a hospital-style bed available, for example, if it is needed? Is a suitable mattress to hand? How can dignity best be maintained if all personal care is provided at a persons bedside? Does the persons room need to be altered in any way, for example fitting new lighting?

    Relatives also need to be prepared. For family, having a good relationship with care staff may be a critical part of the lead-in to this dying phase. You also need to know family members wishes at this time. For example, do they want to be present for the death if possible?

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