Caring For Someone With Vascular Dementia
There is no cure for . Controlling the underlying cause of the disease may help slow the decline in mental and physical abilities. Drugs for the treatment of Alzheimers disease may also work to treat symptoms and slow the progression of vascular dementia. But eventually, people with vascular dementia will lose their independence because symptoms will interfere with their ability to care for themselves.
At first, family members will likely be able to offer the necessary care for someone with vascular dementia. Simple reminders, structured routines, and simplified tasks can help them with daily functions. Providing cues and context can be helpful for recall. But caregivers often find behavioral and personality changes difficult to deal with because they can be distressing.
If youre caring for a loved one with vascular dementia, support is vital. There are several types of resources available to assist caregivers. Respite care and adult daycare programs are examples. Support groups can also help caregivers work through their feelings and find comfort from those in similar situations.
What Are The Main Types Of Dementia
Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around 2 out of every 3 of cases in older people. Vascular dementia is another common form, while dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia are less common.
It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimers is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called mixed dementia.
The symptoms of dementia vary depending on the disease, or diseases, causing it. You can read more about the symptoms associated with different types of dementia on the Alzheimers Society website .
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.
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Life Expectancy And Treatment
About 10 15% of dementia cases are thought to be frontal lobe dementia, the disease affecting 1 in 5000 of the population. However in those under 65 it is believed to be 20 50% of cases. Onset of frontal lobe dementia is normally identified when the patient is between 45 and 65 years of age, although it has been seen in people aged 20 to 30 years of age. Only 10% of cases are identified in those 70 years and over.
The disease takes from three to ten years to progress, although there are instances of much shorter or longer times. The average life expectancy of a person diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia is eight years. Approximately 50% of deaths are as a result of pneumonia, following complications associated with inability of the person to move or care for themselves.
As with other forms of dementia there is no current cure for the disease, but there are a range of treatments that can help to manage and deal with the symptoms, and to help people to regain some of their lost functions.
These include drugs such as SSRI antidepressants to help control the symptoms like obsession, over-eating and depression. Antipsychotics may be given to address challenging and inappropriate behaviours. Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation and behavioural therapy can help maintain memory function address anxiety. Rehabilitative practices such as, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy can help the brain to learn new ways to do things.
Stages And Progression Of Lewy Body Dementia
Claudia Chaves, MD, is board-certified in cerebrovascular disease and neurology with a subspecialty certification in vascular neurology.
If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, you might be wondering what to expect as the disease progresses. Is there a fairly typical progression like Alzheimer’s disease where it begins in early stages that are fairly uniform, then moves to middle stages and then to late stages? In Lewy body dementia, the answer is a bit more complicated.
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Social And Economic Impact
Dementia has significant social and economic implications in terms of direct medical and social care costs, and the costs of informal care. In 2015, the total global societal cost of dementia was estimated to be US$ 818 billion, equivalent to 1.1% of global gross domestic product . The total cost as a proportion of GDP varied from 0.2% in low- and middle-income countries to 1.4% in high-income countries.
How Long Will A Person With Dementia Live For
Whatever type of dementia a person has, their life expectancy is on average lower. This is why dementia is called a life-limiting condition. This can be very upsetting to think about.
However, its important to remember that, no matter how a persons dementia changes over time, there are ways to live well with the condition.
Good support can make a huge difference to the persons quality of life at all stages of dementia.
How long a person lives with dementia varies greatly from person to person. It depends on many factors, such as the ones listed on The progression and stages of dementia page.
Other factors include:
- how far dementia had progressed when the person was diagnosed
- what other serious health conditions the person with dementia has such as diabetes, cancer, or heart problems
- how old the person was when their symptoms started older people are more likely than younger people to have other health conditions that may lower their life expectancy. A person in their 90s who is diagnosed with dementia is more likely to die from other health problems before they reach the later stages than is a person diagnosed in their 70s.
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When Do Dementia Patients Stop Eating
When a patient stops or refuses to eat, things can be very depressing for the caregiver. Drinking and eating are complex and have to do with a control center that is within the brain, which controls the muscles in the throat and neck area.
Dementia affects this part of the brain as it progresses and things like choking, coughing, grimacing as one swallows, clearing the throat, movements that are exaggerated, especially of the tongue and mouth, refusing to swallow, and spitting the food can be seen. This usually happens in the later stages of the disease.
Tips For Managing Dementia End
Because individuals with advanced dementia will often have difficulty communicating, it is important that caregivers keep a close eye on their loved one for signs of pain or discomfort. These signs may include moaning or yelling, restlessness or an inability to sleep, grimacing, or sweating. This may also signal that its time to call hospice or a palliative care team to help with the pain management.
If an individual with end-stage dementia is having trouble sitting up without assistance, hospice can provide a hospital bed or other equipment to lift their head.
Perhaps the hardest thing for families is when a loved one with dementia is no longer able to eat or swallow. Because an individual with dementia is unable to understand the benefits of feeding tubes or IV drips, they will often be incredibly distressed and attempt to remove them, causing added pain and risk of infection. Instead, focusing on keeping the individual comfortable. Supporting them with mouth care to prevent their mouth from becoming dry will allow them to make their final transition in peace.
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Medical Interventions In Late
If someone is in the later stages of dementia and becomes seriously ill, there may be discussion about whether to actively treat their illness. Ways of intervening may include resuscitation after a heart attack, antibiotic treatment for pneumonia, or giving food or liquids by mouth.
Giving or withholding treatment is a serious decision to make for someone else and is not an easy one to make. You need to consider:
Sometimes the decision can only be made by a guardian appointed by a tribunal or court. Each state and territory has different regulations but medical staff or Dementia Australia can advise you about appropriate contacts.
Dementia Due To Alzheimer Disease
An individual with Alzheimer Disease has an overall life expectancy of around 10 years from the time of diagnosis. This figure may go up or down depending on the age of onset and overall health condition of the patient. If the individual is fit and does not have any other underlying illness the life expectancy tends to increase. If an individual is diagnosed with Dementia of Alzheimer type at around age 60 then that individual may live up to 70-80 years depending on their health status. In some studies, data shows that people have lived for over 20 years post diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease.
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Physical Difficulties In The Later Stages Of Dementia
The physical changes of late-stage dementia are partly why the person is likely to need much more support with daily living. At this stage they may:
- walk more slowly, with a shuffle and less steadily eventually they may spend more time in a chair or in bed
- be at increased risk of falls
- need a lot of help with eating and so lose weight
- have difficulty swallowing
- be incontinent losing control of their bladder and bowels.
The persons reduced mobility, in particular, raises their chances of blood clots and infections. These can be very serious or even fatal so it is vital that the person is supported to be as mobile as they can.
Vascular Dementia Prognosis And Life Expectancy
Now that you have a better idea of what a vascular dementia diagnosis could look like, I am sure you are wondering, what is vascular dementia life expectancy? It is hard to accept, but there is no cure right now for vascular dementia. Treatment can slow the progression of symptoms, but the damage done to the brain cant be reversed.
Life expectancy with vascular dementia can be hard to talk about, but the truth is that it does appear to shorten life. The most common cause of death is usually complications of dementia linked to cardiovascular disease. It is also important to know that life expectancy for someone with vascular dementia can be cut even shorter if the person has another stroke or heart attack in addition to the brain damage.
We cant say for certain what stroke dementia life expectancy is because the symptoms vary from person-to-person, and as you can tell from the stages outlined above, the outcome can depend on how far the disease is in each sufferer. If there are other health conditions, it could have a significant impact on life expectancy. Age also plays a large role in each case. Depending on the stage of dementia, both medications and lifestyle adjustments can be applied to help prevent the disease from worsening.
- 85 89
- 95 99
- 100 -106
If you are concerned about end-stage vascular life expectancy, you should discuss it with a qualified healthcare professional.
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What Are The Warning Signs That Life Is Nearing An End
When an elderly person with dementia is almost bearing their end, it can be very traumatic especially for the loved ones. It is important to have an idea of what signs one needs to expect when the end comes as this can give you some sort of comfort.
When you think of a condition such as Alzheimers disease, a person can live for over 10 years with it. It is possible to make the person happy over those years. Since we are not immortals, at some point life does come to an end when you have dementia and it is something that one needs to be prepared for especially if they are caregivers.
Handling the final stage of dementia is much easier, especially when you are aware of the things that you should expect. It is important to give the person the kind of care that will award him or her dignified and peaceful death.
Usually, when a person is about to reach the end, the dementia symptoms usually get worse and this can be quite upsetting. Some of the things that you may notice include:
- Limited mobility so they may have to be bed bound
- Limited speech or no speech at all
- Double incontinence
- Difficulties swallowing and eating
It is important to note that the above symptoms do not really mean that the person will just die. There are people who can have such symptoms for quite some time. You should also remember that about two-thirds of dementia patients succumb to other ailments such as pneumonia.
Some of the other signs that can indicate that death is indeed close include:
Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia
When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:
- Delusional behavior
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Caregiving In The Late Stages
According to the Alzheimers Association, the later stages will be the most difficult, as your loved one is now very frail and relies on you for most of their daily care. At this late stage, encouraging your loved one to eat and sleep will grow increasingly difficult. During this time, they may lose the ability to walk steadily, so an occupational therapist may help them stay mobile without falling. Gather a team of experts to help you, like a speech therapist to help with communication and a nutritionist to recommend the best food and alternative food options, like blended meals, smoothies, and finger foods, that boost the immunity and are packed with nutrition. Incontinence, severe memory loss and disorientation, immune system problems, repetitive movements, and strange or unusual behavior must all be managed during this stage as well.
Watching a loved one live with dementia is never easy. With the proper tools, you can help them navigate their symptoms to live an enriching life. Staying on top of the latest research with Google alerts and attending seminars from expert speakers and medical professionals will keep you up-to-date on new treatments and care techniques. Most importantly, find a supportive community. There are many support groups for caregivers where you can share your successes, frustrations, fears, and joys with other caregivers. Remember, you are not alone!
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.
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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.
Top Dementia Questions And Answers
The dementia diagnosis rate is growing, and experts expect it to increase over the next few decades. To help you better understand dementia and what to expect, weve compiled a list of questions and answers about dementia.
Here are some of the top questions about how dementia progresses, a dementia individuals lifespan, and how to get care for someone with dementia.
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Life Expectancy After An Alzheimers Disease Diagnosis
James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Swank Center for Memory Care and Geriatric Consultation, ChristianaCare
- Expert Advice
Learn about the many factors that affect average life expectancy after a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease.
Genevieve* asked if she could speak privately with me after her mothers evaluation session and diagnosis of Alzheimers disease. I didnt want to ask this in front of her, she said, but my brother and I want to knowhow much time does she have left? Life expectancy after a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease, while uncomfortable to discuss, can be important information for patients and families to have. Ill describe what we know about this topic, and some of the factors that affect survival with and without dementia. Please bear in mind that this information is based on statistical averages, and there can be individual variations in the disease and a person’s resilience to it.
*The name and details were changed to protect privacy.
The most honest answer to Genevieves question may be, It depends. After a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease or another dementia, people can live for months to years, depending on individual circumstances. Its been shown that factors like age, race, genetics, health background, socioeconomic status, and education influence the life expectancy of large numbers of people with Alzheimers. However, every individuals disease is different, and may not follow the average course.