life expectancy for those with dementia

life expectancy for those with dementia

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Philadelphia, PA

#1 Feb 15, 2009
My mother will be 72 this year and was diagnosed with moderately severe depression 2 years ago in parallel with the onset of a form of dementia but not of the classical types. During her 2 years since onset she has experienced increasingly more short-term memory loss, more erratic strange behavior with sporadic hallucinatory episodes in 2008 and recently within last month severe incontinence.
Since her initial diagnosis, she has become quite inactive, loss of interest in general and passive though she still has moments of clear reasoning and judgement with ability to still show positive responses to happy situations.
I've read in various articles that the average age of survival after diagnosis is around 4.5 to 5 years. Have other people's experience with loved ones that succumbed to dementia fit closely to these facts??
I wonder how long she may still have given her condition though I know that the quality of care she receives and other individual factors play a large role in prolonging her life.





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Auburn, WA

#2 Mar 6, 2009
Wow, dementia process of my 84 year old MIL (of whom I'm the caregiver) matched what you described almost exactly. What I find most confusing is you get resigned to being full-time
caregiver for all the ADL's, depends, bathing, feeding and all -- and then for a day or two when you blink they have lucid moments and are changing and eating on their own, using the bathroom, happy as a lark. And you wonder, who is
this person, and have you just been manipulated with her being spiteful? I don't mind the hands on caring, but not of course if it is only in spite and done on purpose to put me in my place, more or less, since she is angry because
she is no longer independent, and I am the only one willing to step forward and 'hands on' care for her. Other family members watch her fall and just tell her to get up, and walk past her. Do they see lucid spiteful devious behavior --that I do not? But I also am wondering about the lifespan after diagnosis. Part of me is sooooo ready for placement, other part just wants to wait it out. I read four key books about caring for dementia, and have done online research, and talked to state and local DSHS 'experts' but no where have I seen a life span mentioned. Hmmmmm. Of course if they are malnourished, choosing not to eat, failure to thrive, losing weight, falling, levels of dementia clearly escalating, it is easy to 'guess' that this lifestyle will decrease her lifespan. About a week ago she went to ER. Deep cut on the bridge of her nose. I thought she fell on the corner of the night stand, she told staff she cut herself
with a knife. The cut was a slit, precisional, like a surgeon would make with a knife. Pretty scary. Also, it has become clear to me that she
probably had dementia for 3-4 years now, rather than 1-2. She just became very skilled at hiding it, or maybe I was just 'seeing' what I wanted to see. This is/was a real wakeup call for me. Not only are actors/actresses role-playing to entertain you,'live' people that you interact with daily are not really who you think they are -- you are seeing them as an image they are projecting, or as you want to see them (not as they really are)- they cover up those traits which do not fit with the self-image that they want to portray. This explains so much about my past 3-4 decades, about how foolishly and naive I have been abut social dynamics, I never viewed situations that way --I viewed it as real, as how it really was -- not human life drama played out by skilled every day people. It's not bad, it's human nature, but it was a real AH-HA moment for me. Looking foward to more posts about lifespan.

Auburn, WA

#3 Mar 6, 2009
Okay, Luke, I did research 'life span dementia' on the internet, and they did say exactly what you said. Hmmmm, intersting. I just know that I know several 90+ year old people that have health problems (sometimes dementia), and they have them for 10-30 years before they pass on.
daughter d

Walled Lake, MI

#4 Apr 13, 2009
I think I am searching for information on the life expectancy of a person with dementia because I can't take seeing my mom this way and I am hopeful she will not have to live like this much longer. Do you feel that way too? It's very confusing to love someone, yet pray they will die gently in their sleep. Soon. I located an article which lists the 7 'stages' of dementia. I found it helpful in determining which stage she is in(6th), which may indicate what will happen next.


#5 Apr 19, 2009
daughter d wrote:
I think I am searching for information on the life expectancy of a person with dementia because I can't take seeing my mom this way and I am hopeful she will not have to live like this much longer. Do you feel that way too? It's very confusing to love someone, yet pray they will die gently in their sleep. Soon. I located an article which lists the 7 'stages' of dementia. I found it helpful in determining which stage she is in(6th), which may indicate what will happen next.
I'm so sorry dear heart. I do pray that the LORD will comfort both you and your mother, and set her free as you've desired. It's very painful to see a beloved mother die, especially like this.
Yes, prayer is the best thing. There are those things that we are just not given to understand in this life.
God bless you and your mother
daughter in-law

Mcalester, OK

#6 Jun 6, 2009
My father in-law has dementia from a stroke he had 5 years ago. He is only 58. He also is in the 6th stage of dementia. It is very frustrating not knowing if they are "playing games" or if it is the disease. And like you say, they can be completely different from one minute to the next. Until 6 months ago he got around on his own in a wheelchair, but fail and broke his hip. During that same time he contracted asperation pneumonia. He had to have a feeding tube, after therapy he is eating some on his own. However, he'd rather not. He doesn't want to be bothered with having to eat. He is considered bedfast now, and most of his nutrition is via the tube. I completely understand your prayers, I'm there myself. And to be completely honest not only for him but for my family as well. He is in a nursing home but my husband and I are the only ones who tend to his needs in the family.
One more thing...the worst part is the lack of communication from the doctors. I asked for months what was wrong with him before I found stroke related dementia on the internet. Then I asked his doctor if he had that and he treated me like I was a complete idiot by saying "OFCOURSE he has that!" I don't understand the medical fields lack of educating the family. Once I find it on the internet and go to them they agree that is what is going on. Why does it take that? Why don't they educate us, and help us through this stuff?? Especially when we are there asking.

Euless, TX

#7 Aug 4, 2009
My father has dementia and I believe he's in or close to the final stages. My question is about Hospice. Has anyone asked for hospice for a dementia patient and "qualified" for it? I've been told that dementia is considered a terminal illness but our doctor doesn't seem to be in favor of putting my Dad in to Hospice. We're still looking into it. Would like to hear of any similar experiences.

United States

#8 Aug 5, 2009
My 91 year old mother has dementia and currently lives in an assisted living facility. Both the staff at this facility and her doctor thought it would be beneficial for her to be in the Hospice program so she could receive additional services. She was accepted on the basis of her dementia with the doctor stating it is reasonable to assume she may not survive more than six months because of her condition. This seemed to be the main criteria. If she is still alive at the end of six months they reevaluate her and can extend hospice care. We just started with hospice this week but I am very impressed with all they offer the patient as well as support for the family. It is 100% paid for by Medicare. We live in MT so the "rules" for hospice care might be different but since it is a government funded program it should be about the same in each state. I think it is well worth pursuing.

United States

#9 Oct 7, 2009
As I sit here in the room with my 97 year old mother, losing her more every day, I too pray for her release from this horrible disease and I too am wondering "how much longer?". If that's morally wrong...then God help me as well as her.

High Point, NC

#10 Dec 14, 2009
I having been watching my78year old father with dementia for only 2 weeks now in a nursing home. I to feel if this is the way he has to live i would rather the lord take him. He has worked hard all his life taking care of 4 children and my mother. He fault with my mother with her death of cancer and his second wife had cancer but made it though. No one deserves to live like this he was use to being outside working in the gardens and on cars now to this. Now all he ask is to take him home. God Bless anyone who has to live through this.

Piscataway, NJ

#11 Jan 3, 2010
I have beeen dealing with my 91 year old mother for a year now. She will be 92 in June. My sister & I have taken care of her but it is getting harder. Like everyone else we find it very hard seeing her like this. Sometime I ask how much longer and I feel that is wrong. She has taken care of me now I guess it my turn. All i can say is do the best you can.

Los Gatos, CA

#12 Jan 9, 2010
While reading all these posts I realize I am not alone, it's amazing how many people are going through this with all the same feelings and problems. My mother is 91 and the last 4 months have been just horrible, she is having problems at times choking when she eats. the last time she was incubated and was in the hospital for 4 days. Now she needs constant care and it's hard to leave the house. Her doctor has called in hospice and I hoping they can help with some things.

Philadelphia, PA

#13 Jan 15, 2010
My 89 year old dad was just diagnosed. What a sad thing! He was so proud
that he was still "with it" and now this somewhat sudden onset. I, too, pray
that he will be spared the indignities of this disease.
daughter T

London, UK

#14 Jan 25, 2010
my 73 year old father has been in hospital for two months. he had been suffering from abnormally low sodium levels which his doctor failed to diagnose over a long period. this led to several falls and eventually a second stroke. he was admitted to ER three times and only on the third occasion when my mother refused to take him home, did the hospital agree to keep him in and do proper exhaustive tests. by the time they corrected the sodium levels, the damage had been done and the dementia has moved so quickly that he is almost unrecognisable. two months ago he was performing every day tasks and had almost perfect memory recall. it has been a terrible shock and knowing he will only get worse is heartbreaking. I sympathise with all those dealing with this.

Ames, IA

#15 Jan 27, 2010
My 91 year old mother has dementia and is what I think are the final stages of dementia, it is so sad to see her like this. I can remember when she was 83 and still working in a store because she didn't want to retire. It seems like each day I go she her she fails just a bit more. I have been away for two days this week and when I went to see her today she was making conversation with me and someone who she was imagining. She is so frail and helpless it makes me so sad that she was once such a "little smart alec" you couldn't get ahead of her she always had a come back. I feel guilty wishing that it would just end for her and this sickness would just let her go but I know in my heart if she had 30 seconds of sound mind she wouldn't want to live like this. I give my deepest sympathy to anyone who is dealing with this with a loved one and pray that God will give us all the strength to get through this. The saddest thing is that she is holding on for my oldest brother to come see her she has been in a nursing home for two years and he still hasn't come to see her. I believe that if he were to see her she would let go and have peace. Thanks for letting me write these words and release a bit of the pain. May God bless your loved one and all of you taking care of them. No one knows what it is like until they go through it.
helen - newcastle


#16 Feb 6, 2010
My mam haswhat is called mini stroke dementia and has done for the last 6 to 7 years. but lately is really deteraiting she has lost so much weight cannot walk very well on her own she just tries to shuffle along but has to be helped while doing this.she does not know who anybody is anymore when we go to see her she just looks at you with a vacant look,when she talks we can not understand her its just babble. this is just a cruel disease but to me i lost my mam when this disease took hold of her and i just wish god would let her go in peace and not make her suffer anymore she does not deserve it.I love my mother with every beat of my heart but it hurts to see her having to go through this.
brokenheartedgra ndaughter

Lytle Creek, CA

#17 Feb 11, 2010
Wow! I'm sorry to read everyone's story, but it feels better knowing someone understands, if that makes sense. My grandma is 80 and was in good health 4 months ago. All of a sudden she is in the ER every weekend and no one can figure out what is wrong. She was finally admitted again 2 days ago and she has been diagnosed with dementia. Her sodium levels were way low and she was dehydrated and being overmedicated with pain killers. The Dr. says that what brought her in 4 months ago seems to have affected her body as a tramatic experience and it has now come on very fast. Her mother past away several years ago with this horrible disease so the gene or whatever it is was there and I guess this past 4 mos has made her brain like snap and now she is in the last stages. It is so hard watching her. I feel so helpless and useless it tears me apart. She holds my hand and crys for me to help her. My grandpa is understandably broken up and I worry about him too. I don't know anymore, I don't know what to do. I will say though that writing this and getting some of it out has helped, so thank you very much for allowing me to do this.You all will be in my prayers and God willing our loved ones will be at peace soon.

Medford, NJ

#18 Feb 15, 2010
My mom was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia about five years ago but in retrospect she has been affected for about nine years.
She is living in her home with a full time caregiver and has been under hospice care now for three years.
About two years ago she lost her ability to swallow and was very close to death. My brother and his inability to let her go had hospice hook her up to fluid hydration. My mom clearly had on her will that she did not want that but there was a clause in it leaving it ultimately up to him.
For some reason, it was enough to put her in a better place where she could swallow again and here we are almost two years later with my mom fully bedridden. She is able to swallow just enough of a liquid diet to sustain her life but continues to lose weight. Every time I see her she keeps getting thinner and probably weighs about 70 lbs.
Going through this is absolutely horrific, it's like watching my mom die the slowest death ever. I just wish this would be over with. It is no quality of life for her. I just wonder at what weight someone can still exist at?
I just can't imagine this going on much longer but somehow she is still here. It is such an emotional roller coaster for me. I've learned to somehow detach from it out of necessity. I have to small children that I need to take care of.
I spent three hours at her house today and I came home feeling like I got the life sucked out of me. I just wish so badly that she would just go to sleep and not wake up.

Dillsburg, PA

#19 Feb 21, 2010
It's somehow comforting hearing that others are having the same thoughts and feelings. As I've watched my once brilliant mother deteriorate over the past three years, I find myself wishing it was over. It's so hard not knowing if there's any quality of life for someone at my mother's stage, Stage 6. Sometimes, she seems positively ecstatic about the visits she's had from relatives long dead, and I wonder if the distress I feel at that is actually a positive event for her. In the past week, she's become aggressive with a new resident at the assisted living facility and is now involuntarily committed to a geriatric psych ward at a hospital for evaluation and medication adjustments. I expect that she'll come out of this eval a zombie as the assisted living facility won't allow her to return without the aggression quashed. The doctor says she could live 3 years or more from this point; I'm horrified. This is so draining; I can't stand to watch this happen to her...

Carlsbad, CA

#20 Feb 25, 2010
It is so sad to hear everyone's stories. However, the beautiful part is all the love that the posters have for their loved ones. It is truly love that makes this world so great. It is that same love that makes this disease so horrible to watch. We are placing my 76 year old mom in a home this Sunday. I feel both terrible and at peace about this. I feel the most sadness when I see what my 82 year old dad is going through with placing her. When this Sunday comes, it will be like the death of a spouse, or divorce to my dad. He also feels like a failure, which he isn't, but he still feels that way. For me, it is the loss of my family. The family that I have had my 42 years of life. Even with their advanced age, and problems, placing my mom is like the end of my family. I guess it is like a death or parental divorce for me too. How can life both stink and be so beautiful at the same time?

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