Dementia And Early Death
Across the globe, dementia rates are expected to double every 20 years for the foreseeable future, with an estimated 81 million cases by 2040.
It is clear from earlier studies that people with dementia have decreased survival compared with people without dementia. Even mild mental impairment linked to dementia is associated with an increase in death risk.
But the characteristics associated with mortality among patients with dementia have not been well understood.
There is general agreement that women with dementia tend to live slightly longer than men, but the impact of other characteristics, including education level, age at diagnosis, and marital status are less well known.
And many previous studies have been restricted to patients being treated for the disorder by a specialist or in a hospital setting, Brayne says.
“We wanted to see what is happening with the entire population, not just people who are treated for dementia,” she says.
Slightly over two-thirds of the people in the study who developed dementia were women, and the median age at dementia onset was 84 for women and 83 for men.
The median age at death was 90 for women and 87 for men. And average survival times varied from a high of 10.7 years for the youngest patients to a low of 3.8 years for the oldest .
As in other studies, dementia was associated with shorter survival, but the cognitive level among people with dementia did not appear to play a major role in death.
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment often occurs before the more severe decline of dementia. Some 1218% of people aged 60 years or older have MCI, but not all will develop dementia. According to the National Institute on Aging, around 1020% of people over the age of 65 with MCI will develop dementia within any 1-year period.
A person with MCI may notice subtle changes in their thinking and ability to remember things. They may have a sense of brain fog and find it hard to recollect recent events. These issues are not severe enough to cause problems with day-to-day life or usual activities, but loved ones may start to notice changes.
Many people become more forgetful with age or take longer to think of a word or remember a name. However, significant challenges with these tasks could be a sign of MCI.
Symptoms of MCI include:
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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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.
- Garre-Olmo J, Ponjoan A, Inoriza JM, et al. Survival, effect measures, and impact numbers after dementia diagnosis: a matched cohort study. Clinical Epidemiology 2019 11:525-42.
- Tom SE, Hubbard RA, Crane PK, et al. Characterization of dementia and Alzheimers disease in an older population: Updated incidence and life expectancy with and without dementia. Am J Public Health 2015 105:408-13.
- Strand BH, Knapskog A-B, Persson K, et al. Survival and years of life lost in various aetiologies of dementia, mild cognitive impairment and subjective cognitive decline in Norway . PLOS ONE 2018 13:e204436.
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 Causes Alzheimer’s Disease To Progress So Quickly
The progression of Alzheimers disease varies widely between individuals, with most people living with the condition for between 3 and 11 years after the initial diagnosis. In some cases, people may survive for more than 20 years. When Alzheimers is detected early, there are possible treatments that can help to slow the progression of the disease and contribute to a longer life expectancy.
It is therefore crucial to plan for the future and follow the progression of the disease through each stage. Alzheimers disease first begins with physical changes in the brain. This can happen at a gradual pace before any noticeable symptoms appear. In fact, this pre-clinical Alzheimers disease stage can begin 10 to 15 years before any symptoms appear.
The Start Of The Dying Process
As someones condition worsens and they get to within a few days or hours of dying, further changes are common. The person will often:
- deteriorate more quickly than before
- lose consciousness
- develop an irregular breathing pattern
- have cold hands and feet.
These changes are part of the dying process. Healthcare professionals can explain these changes so you understand what is happening. The person is often unaware of what is happening, and they should not be in pain or distress.
Medication can be used to treat the persons symptoms. If the person cant swallow, there are other ways of providing this, such as medication patches on the skin, small injections or syringe drivers . Speak to a GP or another health professional about this.
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Each Persons Journey Is Different
Each person has a unique health history. This health history is directly related to how AD will affect them. Its helpful, however, to know the statistics about average life expectancy, as well as how lifestyle and age can alter that length of time.
If you are a caretaker or were recently diagnosed with AD, you can find empowerment and courage in knowing how the condition tends to progress. This allows you to plan with your family and caretakers.
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.
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Stage : Moderate Dementia
When a person has moderate dementia due to Alzheimers disease, they become increasingly confused and forgetful. They may need help with daily tasks and with looking after themselves. This is the longest stage and often lasts around 24 years.
Symptoms of moderate dementia due to Alzheimers disease include:
- losing track of the location and forgetting the way, even in familiar places
- wandering in search of surroundings that feel more familiar
- failing to recall the day of the week or the season
- confusing family members and close friends or mistaking strangers for family
- forgetting personal information, such as their address
- repeating favorite memories or making up stories to fill memory gaps
- needing help deciding what to wear for the weather or season
- needing assistance with bathing and grooming
- occasionally losing control of the bladder or bowel
- becoming unduly suspicious of friends and family
- seeing or hearing things that are not there
- becoming restless or agitated
- having physical outbursts, which may be aggressive
As Alzheimers progresses, a person may start to feel more restless toward evening and have difficulty sleeping. This is sometimes called sundowners syndrome.
During this stage, physical and mental functioning continue to decline.
If a person has severe dementia during the later stages of Alzheimers disease, they might:
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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Life Expectancy After An Alzheimers Disease Diagnosis
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.
Dementia is one of the top causes of death in the United States, and the events leading to death in a person with dementia such as complications related to an infection after aspiration, or falling are not always directly linked to the disease. In order to provide a more useful answer, I want to write about life expectancy in general and then Ill list some of the factors that help us think about survival. Again, while these may influence life expectancy with Alzheimer’s in general, individuals sometimes depart from statistics and have a different disease course.
For anyone with dementia, there is a period of survival with the disease, and this can be a challenging and complicated time for caregivers, a time during which family members need to work together, plan for the future, and cope with an increasingly difficult set of circumstances.
What Is The Life Expectancy For Someone With Dementia
However, here’s what we do know about life expectancy vascular dementia age 80+ disease or another form of dementia are age, gender, and level of disability.
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life expectancy vascular dementia age 80+ varies, depending on various factors. This article covers the details of the same.
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Making A Dementia Care Plan
Planning for dementia care is an important step to helping you or a loved one feel prepared for the future. While no life expectancy calculator is exact, it can give you an idea of what to expect before and after your dementia diagnosis. Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take to help plan for dementia care and put your mind at ease.
The first step is to speak with your physician and talk about your symptoms. Once you receive an official diagnosis, youll be able to plan. An early diagnosis can help you get a head start on the planning and dementia process in the event that your symptoms may worsen. You can also take this time to research and educate yourself on local and national dementia care resources, and familiarize yourself with the various stages and symptoms you might experience.
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Empowering yourself with resources is an important step to dementia care planning. Its also a good idea to plan around your support system and include them in your decisions. If youre a caregiver, its a good idea to delegate tasks and go over a care plan so that you dont experience caregiver burnout.
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.
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Life Expectancy And Survival
FTD causes dramatic reduction in life expectancy , taking into account its midlife onset. The condition advances inexorably until death from pneumonia, failure to thrive, or cardiopulmonary failure. Population studies of FTD survival are difficult to conduct, because FTD is relatively uncommon and phenotypically heterogeneous. Thus most studies of survival in FTD derive from specialist clinic cohorts, using outcomes that describe the evolution of morbidity and disability, or measure milestones, illness duration and survival.
Survival varies widely from 3-14 years the tempo of decline depends on the phenotype. Early survival analyses showed median survival from diagnosis of FTD to be 7-13 years in clinic cohorts and 6-8 years in neuropathology series . The clinical studies find that SD has the longest median survival , and PNFA and bvFTD show comparable survival . FTD-MND has the poorest prognosis with death occurring within 2-3 years of symptom onset , although survival for up to 5 years has been reported . Some data have shown that tau-positive FTD has higher median survival than tau-negative pathology , but this may reflect inclusion of FTD-MND cases in some analyses.
The Facts About Alzheimer’s: Life Expectancy And Long
… with the same severity, or for the same length of time (see box on vascular dementia life expectancy calculator …
Short-term memory problems and dementia – Alzheimer’s Society
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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.
How To Manage Projected Life Expectancy
Taking all the necessary steps and preparing for your dementia diagnosis can help ease the stress on family members, caretakers, and you. This way, you can plan for the future and be ready in the event that the situation takes a dire turn. Plus, preparing and planning before symptoms worsen can help you have the chance to clearly address pressing matters. This could include planning for a long-term caregiver, looking into life insurance, and estate planning.
Planning and managing your diagnosis ahead of time can help you make better-informed decisions about your health and those impacted by your diagnosis. Some of the common ways to prepare for the progression of symptoms include health care planning, revisiting your will, and determining who will legally make health decisions on your behalf in the event that you are not able to make your needs known.
While it can be difficult to think about what to do as symptoms worsen, it is empowering to have the opportunity to think about it before the day arrives. For instance, you may want to look into donating your body to science for research in Alzheimers and dementia care. As symptoms progress, you may also want to plan ahead and think about whether you will require long-term care at an assisted living facility, or if you would prefer self-directed care or hospice care.
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