Factors That Determine Longevity
One study of 438 patients in the U.K. found that the main factors that determine how long a person lives after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are age, gender, and level of disability. Here are the main research findings:
- Women lived an average of 4.6 years after diagnosis, and men lived 4.1 years.
- People diagnosed when under age 70 lived 10.7 years compared to 3.8 years for people over 90 when diagnosed.
- Patients who were frail at the time of diagnosis did not live as long, even after adjusting for age.
- Overall, the average survival time for someone in the study diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia was 4.5 years.
People With Dementia Have Shortened Life Expectancies
People with and other forms of live, on average, about four and a half years after their condition is diagnosed. This is based mainly on people in their 80s and 90s who have recently developed Alzheimers. In general, people with Alzheimers have about one-half the life expectancy, after , than people who do not have Alzheimers. The present findings are from a large collaborative study group in the United Kingdom. The findings appeared in the British Medical Journal.
The findings may help those who care for a loved one with Alzheimers disease to better plan for the future. The results highlight that dementia is a chronic condition, and that people with Alzheimers will likely need care for a number of years after their diagnosis. At the same time, the average survival time is under five years, with wide variations depending on age and physical condition at the time of diagnosis.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge followed more than 13,000 men and women, aged 65 and up, for 14 years. During that time, 438 of the study participants developed Alzheimers disease or , and more than 80 percent of those with dementia died.
The median age at death was 90 for women and 87 for men. Average survival times varied widely, however, depending on the age at diagnosis. Those who were diagnosed at a younger age, from 65 to 69, lived an average of 10.7 years after diagnsosis. Those diagnosed in their 90s, on the other hand, lived an average of 3.8 years.
A Growing Problem
Other Conditions With Similar Symptoms
Early in the disease, Alzheimer’s usually doesn’t affect a person’s fine motor skills or sense of touch. So a person who develops motor symptoms or sensory symptoms probably has a condition other than Alzheimer’s disease. Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, for instance, may cause motor symptoms along with dementia.
Other conditions with symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease may include:
- Dementia caused by small strokes .
- Thyroid problems, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
- Other problems such as kidney and liver disease and some infections such as HIV .
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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 Long Can A Person Live With Dementia
- 22 Feb 2011 by Like2Know
A person can live for several years with dementia. There are a lot of medications out there to help with this. The problem is usually trying to get the person to take them. My mother has the beginning signs of this disease, but it is very difficult to talk to her about it. This is a woman who has always worked and been very proud of her career and family life. Everyone goes to my parents house for all of the holidays. Last Christmas we were opening gifts and my mom whispered to me, who is — and I said, it’s your granddaughter mom. She didn’t say anything else about it. But that is just one example of what she is doing lately. It’s so very difficult to realize that this beautiful woman who is my mother and I’ve always looked to her for support, will now need mine and doesn’t even know it. Approach them with kindness and dignity. It’s a long and emotional road. Good luck and God Bless NIK
i just went threw this sad road with my mother in law last yr and this yr i have been going threw it again with my own father … it sucks more than anything , just take one day at a time , every day is different for them u never really know what u are walking into . There really is no time set in stone we just take things as they come and try to be strong for them , thats all we can do really
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What Are The Symptoms
For most people, the first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. Often the person who has a memory problem doesn’t notice it, but family and friends do. But the person with the disease may also know that something is wrong.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s get worse slowly over time. You may:
- Have trouble making decisions.
- Be confused about what time and day it is.
- Get lost in places you know well.
- Have trouble learning and remembering new information.
- Have trouble finding the right words to say what you want to say.
- Have more trouble doing daily tasks like cooking a meal or paying bills.
A person who gets these symptoms over a few hours or days or whose symptoms suddenly get worse needs to see a doctor right away, because there may be another problem.
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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Whats The Life Expectancy For Someone With Dementia
Each person will have an individual experience of dementia. The speed and pattern of progression of the disease can differ-but the condition is progressive and will get worse over time. Sadly, dementia will limit the life expectancy of the person affected the condition has now overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
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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How Long Does It Take To Die From Alzheimer’s
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease on average, given the state of good supportive care, can last from 5 to 20 years. Life expectency varies, depending on the patient’s age when symptoms begin. The average, calculated by the Alzheimer’s Association, is around 8 to 12 years. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are progressive in nature. There are loosely defined stages of Alzheimer’s disease, however a hallmark of the disease is its individual effect on different patients. The stages are not linear, but in all cases complications from the body’s eventual lack of functioning lead to death.
In general, there is a phase in which learning and memory performance is mildly compromised. This stage can last as short as few months or as long as a few years. This phase transitions into the next, consisting of severe fading of learning and memory capability.
Finally, the patient with a fully developed clinical picture of the disease falls into a final state in which the sense of self is lost. In the severe stages of dementia, patients experience a severe decline in all activities of daily living . End-stage dementia often causes a loss in the ability to speak, walk, and eat. This inhibited functionality often leads to complications such as infection, malnutrition, or blood clots that result in death of the patient.
Stage : Mild Dementia Due To Alzheimers Disease
The symptoms of Alzheimers disease during this stage are still mild however, close friends and family may begin to notice signs and symptoms of the disease. Work quality will begin to suffer, and the individual is likely to experience problems when trying to learn something new. Although stage three lasts for approximately seven years, symptoms will become more apparent over a span of two to four years. Its during stage three that Alzheimers disease is most often diagnosed, as it becomes apparent to family and medical professionals that the individual is having significant trouble with memory and thinking, so much so, that it impacts day-to-day activities.
In stage three, an individual may require counseling. They may have mild to moderate denial, depression and anxiety. As this stage progresses and their symptoms worsen, they may require caregiving assistance in their home or in a senior care community.
In stage three, individuals may experience:
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Caring For Those With Dementia
Researcher Murna Downs, PhD, says most people don’t recognize that dementia is a disease people live with, and not just a death sentence.
Downs’ research focuses on quality-of-life issues among dementia patients.
“People with dementia live a long time, and we now know that there is a lot of awareness,” she says. “People assume that if someone doesn’t know where they are they have no other capacity for thinking and feeling. But people with dementia continue to think and to laugh and to feel the rain on their faces, and to try to make sense of their world.”
She adds that patients are often isolated because family members or other caregivers fail to recognize their need for interaction and stimulation.
“The therapeutic potential of human contact cannot be underestimated,” she says. “You would never put a small child in a chair and let them sit there all day with nothing to do. Children need stimulation and human contact and so do people with dementia.”
SOURCES: Xie, J. BMJ Online First, Jan. 11, 2008. Carol Brayne,professor, lecturer in epidemiology, department of public health and primarycare, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, England. MurnaDowns, PhD, professor in dementia studies, Bradford Dementia Group, Universityof Bradford, England Ferri, C.P. Lancet, 2005 vol 366: pp2112-2117.
Do You Die From Dementia
The forgetfulness, confusion and communication problems of dementia are caused by increasing damage to cells in the brain. But the brain doesn’t just control memory and thought it is also the control centre for the body. Progressive brain cell death will eventually cause the digestive system, lungs, and heart to fail, meaning that dementia is a terminal condition. Studies suggest that, on average, someone will live around ten years following a dementia diagnosis. However, this can vary significantly between individuals, some people living for more than twenty years, so it’s important to try not to focus on the figures and to make the very most of the time left.
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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.
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.
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Stages Of Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease progresses slowly and can be categorized into three stages namely mild, moderate and severe. The mild stage is also referred to as the early stage, the middle stage is also referred to as the middle stage, and finally, the severe stage is also called the late stage.
Alzheimers disease-associated changes in the brain startway before they exhibit any symptoms. This pre-diagnostic period can last up toyears. Another term used to label this condition is preclinical Alzheimersdisease. The stages of Alzheimers disease allow us to deduce how our abilitieschange with the progressive deterioration in brain health.
Following are the three main stages of Alzheimers disease.
- Mild Alzheimers disease
In this stage, a person can function independently and carryout routine activities with no difficulty. However, in this mild stage, it iscommon to encounter people experiencing memory lapses the kind that compelsyou to forget familiar things. These signs are often picked up upon by friendsand family. Impaired concentration and hazy memory are a common finding in thisstage.
Additionally, one might also feel any of the following:
- Problems with finding the right word or name
- Trouble remembering names when introduced to newpeople
- Challenges performing tasks in social or worksettings.
- Forgetting something that one has just read
- Misplacing objects
- Increased trouble with planning or organizing
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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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
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.