How Alzheimer’s Disease Is Treated
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medicines are available that can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer’s live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it’s easier to move around and remember daily tasks.
Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.
Read more about treating Alzheimer’s disease.
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.
What Are The Risk Factors For Frontotemporal Dementia
Frontotemporal dementia has one known risk factor: genetics. Scientists have found several genes related to the disease. If one of your family members is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, you have a greater risk.
However, not everyone with a family history will develop a problem. Its also estimated that more than half of the individuals diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia dont have a family history associated with the disease.
Doctors cant diagnose frontotemporal dementia with a single test. Instead, your doctors will try to rule out other conditions or diseases that cause similar symptoms.
Some of the tests used to diagnose frontotemporal dementia include:
- blood tests: These can help identify other possible causes.
- neuropsychological testing: These tests check your judgment and memory skills, and help determine what type of dementia you may have.
- brain imaging: Doctors will check for tumors or blood clots.
- MRI: A magnetic resonance imaging test gives doctors a detailed image of your brain.
- CT scan: A computerized tomography scan creates images of your brain in layers.
Frontotemporal dementia cannot be cured. Treatment is aimed at managing and alleviating symptoms.
Common treatments include:
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When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.
They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:
- a complete series of memory and mental tests
- a neurological exam
- brain imaging tests
If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.
Possible causes of dementia include:
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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Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Factors That Affect Life Expectancy With Dementia
As with life expectancy in general, many factors affect the expected length of survival after a diagnosis of dementia. If we include everyone of all ages, average life expectancy is decreased by almost nine years by dementia, but this number can be further refined based on individual characteristics. For example, an individuals sex is a factor affecting survival after dementia, just as it affects life expectancy in general. At all ages, expected survival after a dementia diagnosis is about 1.5 years longer for women than for men.; Scientists are researching the biological basis for this, and it may also be explained in part by differences in social norms .
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How Is Dementia Different From Normal Ageing
Many of us get a little more forgetful as we get older. Most people will need a bit longer to remember things, get distracted more easily or struggle to multi-task as well as they once did. This may become noticeable particularly from middle age – usually taken as during our 40s, 50s and early 60s – onwards.
These changes are normal, but they can be a nuisance and at times frustrating. However, you may worry that these things are an early sign of dementia. It’s important not to worry too much about this. For most people, these changes will be the result of normal ageing and won’t be down to dementia.
Prevalence By Age In The Uk
The biggest risk factor for dementia is age the older you are the more likely you are to develop the condition, but it is not an inevitable part of ageing. About two in 100 people aged between 65 to 69 have dementia, and this figure rises to one in five for those aged between 85 to 89.
Page last reviewed: 05/07/2018
It is a common misconception that dementia is a condition of older age, over 42,000 people under 65 years old have dementia in the UK.
Prevalence by age groups
The estimated percentage of people living with dementia at different age groups is shown below. This shows the effect of age on your risk of developing dementia, and also how many more women there are living with dementia at older ages.
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The Impact Of Dementia For Younger People And Their Families
- Although younger people experience similar symptoms to older people with dementia, the impact on their lives is much greater.; Younger people are more likely to still be working when they are diagnosed.; Many will have significant financial commitments such as a mortgage.; They often have children to care for and dependent parents too.
- Their lives tend to be more active and they have hopes, dreams and ambitions to fulfil up to and beyond their retirement.
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 Causes Frontotemporal Dementia
Researchers have not identified a single cause for this type of dementia, but they have some ideas. Some peoples brains develop abnormal protein structures, called Pick bodies.
Researchers have also identified abnormal proteins that may play a role. These proteins, found in brain cells of individuals who died with dementia, may affect how the brain works. Researchers dont know why these proteins develop or how to prevent them.
Symptoms Of Vascular Dementia
Symptoms pointing to Vascular Dementia are usually pretty clear, constant confusion, disorientation, and vision loss some of the symptoms that attach to Vascular Dementia. The condition is available to be diagnosed through both testing and screening options, methods that can narrow down the condition from other possibilities. Specific treatments are unavailable at this time, however test treatments have been performed to moderate successful results. These treatments however, have not been fully evaluated by the FDA, Food and Drug Administration. Preventing cases of Vascular Dementia is possible, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and regular doctor checkups a few options to keep Dementia at bay. These actions wont completely remove the risk, however they will make the risk a lot lower of a chance of happening.
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Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
Facts About The Future
Studies into the main types of dementia have revealed the following about life expectancy
General life expectancy for someone with Alzheimers is around 8-12 years from diagnosis although this does depend on age and health. If you were relatively fit and healthy on the diagnosis you could live considerably longer than this. People who are diagnosed around the age of 65 tend to decline more slowly than those who are aged 80 or over. But with the right care and treatment, a fit and healthy 80 year old could still live into their nineties.
Did you know? A US study of 1,300 men and women with Alzheimers showed life expectancy to range from one year to 26 years from when their symptoms first appeared
Since vascular dementia is often linked to strokes people who are living with it can be in poorer general health than those with other types of dementia. Studies have shown their average life expectancy to be around four years after diagnosis, though their eventual decline is often linked to further strokes.
Dementia with Lewy bodies
After diagnosis, the average lifespan of someone with dementia with Lewy bodies was found in one study to be around 5-7 years after onset. However people have been known to live between two and 20 years with it, depending on their age, and other medical conditions they may have, such as Parkinsons disease which can be related to dementia with Lewy bodies.
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How Is Dementia Treated
Treatment of dementia depends on the underlying cause. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimers disease, have no cure, though there are medications that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms such as anxiety or behavior changes. Research to develop more treatment options is ongoing.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining social contacts, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases and may reduce number of people with dementia.
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia ;Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
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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.
Life Expectancy And Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies accounts for around 7% of cases of dementia. Lewy bodies are tiny protein deposits that affect thought, memory and movement and are linked to both dementia and Parkinsons disease.
Hallucinations, sleep disturbance, and movement problems can be an early feature in dementia with Lewy bodies, so that diagnosis may be made at an earlier stage. Some research suggests that survival can be significantly shorter with this challenging condition, however, the Alzheimer’s Society says:
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The Stages Of Dementia Life Expectancy
Medically Reviewed By: Prudence Hatchett, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
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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How Long Will You Live After A Dementia Diagnosis
Its sad but true that people with dementia usually have shorter lives. However, exactly how much shorter their life will vary enormously from person to person. Heres the key information about life expectancy, but remember, these are only general statistics so think carefully about whether you want to know before you read on.
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.
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Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging
No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:
- Occasionally misplacing car keys
- Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
- Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
- Forgetting the most recent events
Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.
What Is The Outlook For Frontotemporal Dementia
In the early stages, the symptoms and signs of frontotemporal dementia can be cared for and treated with good results. Late-stage frontotemporal dementia can take years to develop. As the disease progresses, 24-hour care may become necessary.
Frontotemporal dementia shortens a persons life span. The condition will eventually cause a person to have difficulty with bodily functions such as:
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How Much Time Can Treatment Add
Treatment will not prevent the progression of AD. It is also unclear if treatment can add time to a persons life. Ultimately, AD will progress and take its toll on the brain and body. As it progresses, symptoms and side effects will get worse.
However, a few medications may be able to slow the progression of AD at least for a short time. Treatment can also improve your quality of life and help treat symptoms. Talk with your doctor about your treatment options.
study identified several factors that affect a persons life expectancy. These include:
- Gender: A 2004 study found that men lived an average of 4.2 years after their initial diagnosis. Women were found to live an average of 5.7 years after their diagnosis.
- Severity of symptoms: People with significant motor impairment, such as a history of falls and a tendency to wander or walk away, had shorter life expectancies.
- Brain abnormalities: The study also detected a connection between brain and spinal cord abnormalities and the length of life.
- Other health problems: People with heart disease, a history of heart attack, or diabetes had shorter lifespans than patients without these complicating health factors.
Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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