Seven Stages Of Alzheimers Disease
As a persons cognitive and physical abilities continue to decline, he or she moves through seven stages of Alzheimers disease. Its important to remember the disease progresses differently for each person, and some of the stages may overlap for some people. That said, Alzheimers disease progression follows the same general course for most people:
- Stage 1: No Symptoms. People with Alzheimers likely have the disease for a decade or longer before they begin exhibiting any symptoms. Many people dont know they have Alzheimers disease at this stage.
- Stage 2: Minor Forgetfulness. While older age-related forgetfulness is common, Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. However, memory lapses at this early stage of Alzheimers may not prompt much concern.
- Stage 3: Marked Memory Problems. Forgetfulness at this stage becomes more evident and harder to pass off as age-related. Memory lapses may begin to affect daily life in social or work settings. Decision-making becomes more difficult.
- Stage 4: Cognition Changes. In addition to more noticeable memory lapses, the person may experience cognitive problems with language and organization. People in this stage may experience about what day it is and where they are, and they could wander away or get lost. Personality changes, such as anger and , and increased risk of are common. Poor judgment, especially with financial decisions, becomes evident.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.
But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
End Of Life Dementia Care And Covid
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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What Is The Life Expectancy For Someone With Dementia
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer as there are many influencing factors, including the persons age and gender, the type of dementia and the stage of the condition at diagnosis. The average life expectancy after diagnosis for someone with Alzheimers, the most common form of dementia is 10 years. However, dementia progresses differently in everyone, meaning people can live anywhere from 2 years to 26 years after diagnosis.
The main way in which health care professionals estimate dementia life expectancy is by using the Global Deterioration Scale , also called the Reisberg Scale. It shows the average time someone is expected to live depending on which stage of dementia they are at.
|Stage||Expected Life Expectancy|
|Stage 1: No cognitive decline||N/A|
|Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline||Unknown|
|Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline||2-7 years|
|Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline||2 years|
|Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline||1.5 years|
|Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline||2.5 years|
|Stage 7: Very Severe cognitive decline||1.5 to 2.5 years||2.5 years or less|
Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
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How To Improve A Loved One’s Quality Of Life After Diagnosis
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are activities and therapies designed to improve your loved ones quality of life. For example, the extent to which your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can maintain their social relationships may play a large role.
At home, it’s important to try to maintain as much normalcy as possible. In particular, it can be helpful for your loved one to maintain their household responsibilities. In the later stages of the disease, your loved one’s needs are likely to change, and it’s critical for you as a caregiver to know how to care for yourself as well as your loved one.
Why Are There Swallowing Problems
As dementia progresses it affects the area of the brain that controls swallowing. In advanced dementia the person may have a weak swallow or lose the ability to swallow safely. For example, they may cough or choke after swallowing food or drinks. See the Chewing and swallowing problems feature in the Eating well section.
Swallowing problems can also be caused by general weakness and frailty of the person, that is, their swallowing muscles become very weak. In addition, changes in sensation and sensory awareness means that some people will find the experience of eating feels very different and may, at times, feel unpleasant to them.
Other problems such as having a sore mouth or sensitive teeth can cause a person to take in less food or develop swallowing problems. You should bring these difficulties to the attention of a doctor, nurse or dentist as soon as possible to review.
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What Affects Life Expectancy In Dementia
The life expectancy of someone living with dementia depends on many factors. The type of dementia, the severity of dementia at the time of diagnosis, and the individual’s age, sex, and their general health and wellbeing can all impact on the time they can live with the disease. The key things that affect life expectancy include:
How To Test For Dementia
There is no single test that can determine a person is suffering from dementia. The doctor can diagnose different types of dementia such as Alzheimers based on their medical history.
This has to be done very carefully. In addition, the doctor may conduct laboratory tests, physical examinations, and changes in the way the patient thinks.
When all things are considered carefully, a doctor can be able to determine that a person is actually suffering from dementia with certainty. Determining the type of dementia can be hard, especially due to the fact that brain changes and symptoms that are associated with the different types of dementias sometimes overlap.
It is normal for the doctor to give a diagnosis of dementia without really specifying the type. In such a case, it is important for the patient to visit a specialist in this area like a psychologist or neurologist for a more specific diagnosis.
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Eating And Drinking At The End Of Life
People with dementia can develop problems with eating, drinking and their ability to swallow at any stage of their illness, although it is most common to see this at the more advanced stages. In this section you’ll be able to explore why this happens and how you can help.
When a person with advanced dementia takes in only a very limited amount of food and fluids or can no longer swallow safely, it can be an extremely difficult and emotional time for family and care staff as they try to work out how to best respond and care for the person with dementia. It is important to try and maintain eating and drinking, even in very small amounts, for comfort and enjoyment. Speech and language therapists can help and advise about swallowing changes at this time.
What happens when Pete can no longer swallow? Will he just starve to death? I dont want him suffering.
A woman speaking about her husband who has dementia.
Alma And Silvias Story
Alma had been forgetful for years, but even after her family knew that Alzheimers disease was the cause of her forgetfulness, they never talked about what the future would bring. As time passed and the disease eroded Almas memory and ability to think and speak, she became less and less able to share her concerns and wishes with those close to her.
This made it hard for her daughter Silvia to know what Alma needed or wanted. When the doctors asked about feeding tubes or antibiotics to treat pneumonia, Silvia didnt know how to best reflect her mothers wishes. Her decisions had to be based on what she knew about her moms values, rather than on what Alma actually said she wanted.
Quality of life is an important issue when making healthcare decisions for people with dementia. For example, medicines are available that may delay or keep symptoms from becoming worse for a little while. Medicines also may help control some behavioral symptoms in people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimers disease.
However, some caregivers might not want drugs prescribed for people in the later stages of Alzheimers. They may believe that the persons quality of life is already so poor that the medicine is unlikely to make a difference. If the drug has serious side effects, they may be even more likely to decide against it.
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Life Expectancy And Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Abnormal proteins cause steadily increasing brain damage. This initially affects thought and memory and remember and progressively causes failure of all body systems.
Alzheimers is typically diagnosed at the mild dementia stage when memory and planning problems start to affect daily life. The life expectancy for an individual with Alzheimer’s is usually between 8-12 years from diagnosis however, someone fit and healthy on diagnosis could live considerably longer. In one American study, people lived from between one and twenty-six years after first spotting symptoms, so the variation is enormous.
Changes In Mood Emotions And Perceptions
Changes in mood remain in the later stages of dementia. Depression and apathy are particularly common.
Delusions and hallucinations are most common in the late stage of dementia. They are not always distressing but they can explain some changes in behaviour because the persons perception of reality is altered.
People with later stage dementia often respond more to senses than words. They may like listening to songs or enjoy textures. For example, they may like the feel of different types of material.
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Support For Dementia Caregivers At The End Of Life
Caring for people with Alzheimers or other dementias at home can be demanding and stressful for the family caregiver. Depression is a problem for some family caregivers, as is fatigue, because many feel they are always on call. Family caregivers may have to cut back on work hours or leave work altogether because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Many family members taking care of a person with advanced dementia at home feel relief when death happensfor themselves and for the person who died. It is important to realize such feelings are normal. Hospicewhether used at home or in a facility gives family caregivers needed support near the end of life, as well as help with their grief, both before and after their family member dies.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems.
For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:
- confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
- difficulty planning or making decisions
- problems with speech and language
- problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
- personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
- hallucinations and delusions
- low mood or anxiety
Read more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
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Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
Signs Of Death In Elderly With Dementia: End Stage
Dementia is a term used to describe the persistent or chronic decline in ones mental processes and this include personality changes, impaired reasoning, and memory loss. The most common form is Alzheimers disease and it accounts for over 70 percent of all the dementia cases.
It is one of the greatest causes of death in the United States with over five million people living with the disease in the country alone. One of the age groups affected by dementia is the seniors. If you are a caregiver, it is important to know the signs of death in elderly with dementia.
Most progressive dementias and Alzheimers disease do not have any cure. The diseases get worse with the passage of time, but the timeline can be very different from one person to the next.
Caring for persons with the diseases can be stressful and very challenging, especially when their personality begins to change and their cognitive function starts to decline. It is possible that the individual will not even recognize the people who are closest and dearest to them.
As the disease progresses, the person needs more and more support from the caregiver and the family. If the person is elderly, the caregiver needs to know about all the signs that the patient may be dying.
You may need to put the patient on hospice so as that he or she can get the appropriate care during such moments. This offers the family and the patient spiritual, physical, and emotional care.
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Can A Person With Dementia Live Alone
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.
Formula Predicts Alzheimer’s Longevity
That, says Gregory A. Jicha, MD, is the first question patients ask after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Until now, the answer has largely been a guessing game. But Jicha and colleagues have developed a simple formula based on a patient’s sex, age, and cognitive skills at the time of diagnosis to more accurately predict life expectancy.
“Having a better of idea of how long they will live will allow patients and families to better plan for the future,” says Jicha, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
He presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
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Life Expectancy And Vascular Dementia
Repeated small strokes can damage the brain and cause vascular dementia. Its the second most common cause of the disease. The pattern of disease progression is different from the gradual deterioration of Alzheimers disease. The symptoms may be steady for a while, then suddenly get worse followed by a further period of stability. This reflects times when blood clots interrupt the blood supply to the brain, causing damage.
Because people with vascular dementia is linked to strokes, people affected often have other illnesses and may have worse general health. Research suggests that the average life expectancy is around four years. However, sudden or severe deterioration can happen when there is a further stroke.
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
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