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How Long Does A Person Live With Alzheimer’s

Tips For Providing Compassionate Care

How long does dementia last?

Although learning about what happens during the final stage of Alzheimers disease can feel upsetting, knowing what to expect empowers you and your loved one to make decisions while you can. If your loved one hasnt reached this stage yet, now is the ideal time to talk about long-term plans for his or her care. For instance, your loved one may do best at home with a professional caregiver. If your loved one is already in this stage, your role now is to focus on helping him or her stay comfortable despite the symptoms. By putting together a team of caregivers who can help with meals, dressing, and providing calm opportunities to socialize, you can help your loved one move through the final stages of Alzheimers with the understanding that he or she is loved.

Alzheimers can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who dont have experience in providing Alzheimers care. TorontoHome Care Assistance provides Alzheimers care seniors and their families can depend on. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimers and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. Home Care Assistance will work with you to customize a care plan thats just right for your loved ones needs. Call us today at 488-8777 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.

Stage : Normal Outward Behavior

Alzheimer├ós disease usually starts silently, with brain changes that begin years before anyone notices a problem. When your loved one is in this early phase, they won’t have any symptoms that you can spot. Only a PET scan, an imaging test that shows how the brain is working, can reveal whether they have Alzheimer’s.

As they move into the next six stages, your friend or relative with Alzheimer’s will see more and more changes in their thinking and reasoning.

What Stage Of Dementia Does Sundowning Start

Sundowning is a distressing symptom that affects people with Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia in their mid-to-late stages, and the symptoms tend to worsen as the disease progresses. People with dementia can become hyperactive, agitated, and confused, and these symptoms can last into the night, disrupting sleep.

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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.

What Is The Burden Of Alzheimers Disease In The United States

How Long Do People Live With Dementia?
  • Alzheimers disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.2
  • The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
  • The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.3

In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimers disease.1 This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1

In 2010, the costs of treating Alzheimers disease were projected to fall between $159 and $215 billion.4 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually.4

Death rates for Alzheimers disease are increasing, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that are on the decline.5 Dementia, including Alzheimers disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimers may be considerably higher.6

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.

Medicines For Memory Problems

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors treat symptoms of mental decline in people who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. They include donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine. Donepezil can be used to help those who have severe Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Memantine treats more severe symptoms of confusion and memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease.

Because these medicines work differently, they are sometimes used together .

These medicines may temporarily help improve memory and daily functioning in some people who have Alzheimer’s disease. The improvement varies from person to person. These medicines don’t prevent the disease from getting worse. But they may slow down symptoms of mental decline.

The main decision about using these usually isn’t whether to try a medicine but when to begin and stop treatment. Treatment can be started as soon as Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed. If the medicines are effective, they are continued until the side effects outweigh the benefits or until the person no longer responds to the medicines.

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Does The Type Of Dementia Affect Life Expectancy

The type of dementia a person has can also affect how long they live with dementia. These figures for the number of years a person may live after a diagnosis are just averages and some people live longer than this.

This information may be upsetting to read and think about but it is very important to remember that, with the right support, people with dementia can live well at all stages.

What Are The Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease

Living with dementia

Watch this video play circle solid iconMemory Loss is Not a Normal Part of Aging

Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.

In addition to memory problems, someone with symptoms of Alzheimers disease may experience one or more of the following:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  • Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.

Even if you or someone you know has several or even most of these signs, it doesnt mean its Alzheimers disease. Know the 10 warning signs .

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Stages Of Alzheimer Disease

The stages of Alzheimer disease usually follow a progressive pattern. But each person moves through the disease stages in his or her own way. Knowing these stages helps healthcare providers and family members make decisions about how to care for someone who has Alzheimer disease.

Preclinical stage. Changes in the brain begin years before a person shows any signs of the disease. This time period is called preclinical Alzheimer disease and it can last for years.

Mild, early stage. Symptoms at this stage include mild forgetfulness. This may seem like the mild forgetfulness that often comes with aging. But it may also include problems with concentration.

A person may still live independently at this stage, but may have problems:

  • Remembering a name

  • Staying organized

  • Managing money

The person may be aware of memory lapses and their friends, family or neighbors may also notice these difficulties.

Moderate, middle stage. This is typically the longest stage, usually lasting many years. At this stage, symptoms include:

  • Increasing trouble remembering events

  • Problems learning new things

  • Trouble with planning complicated events, like a dinner

  • Trouble remembering their own name, but not details about their own life, such as address and phone number

  • Problems with reading, writing, and working with numbers

As the disease progresses, the person may:

Physical changes may occur as well. Some people have sleep problems. Wandering away from home is often a concern.

How Does Alzheimers Impact Life Expectancy

According to a study, the key factors that determine how long someone lives after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are gender, age, and level of disability:

  • While men lived approximately 4.1 years following diagnosis, women lived approximately 4.6 years.
  • When someone who is over the age of 90 is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, they live 3.8 years. In contrast, someone under the age of 70 lived 10.7 years.
  • If a patient was frail when they were diagnosed, they didn’t live as long even after the adjustment for age has been made.

In the end, the average survival time for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia was 4.5 years.

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Age When Diagnosis Is Determined

The age at diagnosis, too, is important because an older individual may already be frail and vulnerable to additional life-shortening accidents, diseases, or infections. Life expectancy after a diagnosis of dementia decreases with increasing age for example, an average person diagnosed with Alzheimers disease between ages 70 and 79 can expect to survive seven more years, while diagnosis after age 90 is associated with an expected survival of only 2.8 additional years.

Who Has Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimer
  • In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimers disease.1
  • Younger people may get Alzheimers disease, but it is less common.
  • The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
  • This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
  • Symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60, and the risk increases with age.

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Stage : Severe Cognitive Declinemoderately Severe Dementia

Stage 6a

At this stage, the ability to perform basic activities of daily life becomes compromised. Functionally, five successive substages are identifiable. Persons initially in stage 6a, in addition to having lost the ability to choose their clothing without assistance, begin to require assistance in putting on their clothing properly. Unless supervised, the person with Alzheimers disease may put their clothing on backward, they may have difficulty putting their arm in the correct sleeve, or they may dress in the wrong sequence.

The total duration of the stage of moderately severe Alzheimers disease is approximately 2.5 years in otherwise healthy persons.

Stage 6b

At approximately the same point in the evolution of AD, but generally just a little later in the temporal sequence, AD persons lose the ability to bathe without assistance . Characteristically, the earliest and most common deficit in bathing is difficulty adjusting the temperature of the bath water. Once the caregiver adjusts the temperature of the bath water, the AD person can still potentially otherwise bathe independently. As this stage evolves, additional deficits occur in bathing and dressing independently. In this 6b substage, AD persons generally develop deficits in other modalities of daily hygiene such as properly brushing their teeth.

Stages 6c, 6d, 6e

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.

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What Is The Average Life Expectancy

Life expectancy varies for each person with AD. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is eight to 10 years. In some cases, however, it can be as short as three years or as long as 20 years.

AD can go undiagnosed for several years, too. In fact, the average length of time between when symptoms begin and when an AD diagnosis is made is 2.8 years.

Scales For Rating Dementia

How Long Does Alzheimer’s Last?

Rather than simply using early stage,middle-stage, and late-stage dementia as descriptors, there are scales that provide a more comprehensive description. These scales help better understand the different stages of Alzheimers disease based on how well a person thinks and functions . These scales are the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia, the Functional Assessment Staging Test, and the Clinical Dementia Rating.

Did You Know?

Global Deterioration Scale / Reisberg Scale

The most commonly used scale is often referred to simply as GDS, or by its more formal name, the Reisberg Scale . The GDS divides into seven stages based on the amount of cognitive decline. This test is most relevant for people who have Alzheimers disease because some other types of dementia do not always include memory loss.

Someone in stages 1-3 does not typically exhibit enough symptoms for a dementia diagnosis. By the time a diagnosis has been made, a dementia patient is typically in stage 4 or beyond. Stage 4 is considered early dementia, stages 5 and 6 are considered middle dementia, and stage 7 is considered late dementia.

Global Deterioration Scale / Reisberg Scale
Diagnosis

Clinical Dementia Rating

Clinical Dementia Rating Scale
Stage
Average duration is 1 year to 2.5 years.

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Stage : Very Severe Cognitive Declinesevere Dementia

At this stage, AD persons require continuous assistance with basic activities of daily life for survival. Six consecutive functional substages can be identified over the course of this final seventh stage. Early in this stage, speech has become so circumscribed, as to be limited to approximately a half-dozen intelligible words or fewer . As this stage progresses, speech becomes even more limited to, at most, a single intelligible word . Once intelligible speech is lost, the ability to ambulate independently , is invariably lost. However, ambulatory ability may be compromised at the end of the sixth stage and in the early portion of the seventh stage by concomitant physical disability, poor care, medication side-effects or other factors. Conversely, superb care provided in the early seventh stage, and particularly in stage 7b, can postpone the onset of loss of ambulation. However, under ordinary circumstances, stage 7a has a mean duration of approximately 1 year, and stage 7b has a mean duration of approximately 1.5 years.

In persons with AD who remain alive, stage 7c lasts approximately 1 year, after which persons with AD lose the ability not only to ambulate independently but also to sit up independently , At this point in the evolution, the person will fall over when seated unless there are armrests to assist in sitting up in the chair.

How Does Alzheimer’s Lead To Death

Alzheimers disease is a degenerative brain disorder in which brain cells destruct. The condition results in a decline in memory, behavior, and mental capabilities.

It is not Alzheimer’s disease that kills a person. Death typically results from an inability to carry out routine activities, such as eating, taking care while walking, visiting the bathroom and toilet. This inability to take care of oneself makes the affected person fall prey to problems, such as malnutrition, dehydration, falls, and infections , which lead to death.

Pneumonia is a common cause of death in people with Alzheimers disease. Problems while swallowing make ingested food particles enter the respiratory tract and the lungs instead of the esophagus. This ingested food causes pneumonia in the lungs.

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General Overview Of Alzheimer Disease Stages

For those who are diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, symptoms typically manifest when a person reaches their 70s, but for those who develop early-onset Alzheimers disease , symptoms can develop as early as a persons 30s.

When it comes to Alzheimers disease, life expectancy can range from a few years to as many as 20. It really depends on the overall health of the individual and the severity of their symptoms. There is one factor, however, that has a major impact on life expectancy the age when symptoms appear. Those diagnosed at the age of 65 have a life expectancy of 8.3 years, whereas, someone at the age of 90 has a shorter life expectancy of 3.4 years.

In the typical progression of Alzheimers disease, the mild or early stages last approximately two to four years. The moderate or middle stages lasts anywhere from two to 10 years. And the severe or late stages typically last one to three years. Doing the math, you see that there is a wide range of years in which the disease can progress between five to 17 years for the typical progression of Alzheimers disease.

Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia. In its early stages, Alzheimers disease may interfere with some day-to-day activities. As it progresses into the later stages, however, an individual with Alzheimers disease will be completely dependent on others to accomplish even the most basic tasks.

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