People with dementia or their families may ask, ‘Does dementia shorten life expectancy?’ And the sad truth is this disease can limit the life expectancy of the affected persons, hence often called a ‘life-limiting’ condition.
In general, the pattern and speed of progression of dementia differ from one person to another, depending on several factors like the disease type, health, and age. However, while dementia is a progressive disease, the condition worsens with time. And it becomes imperative to consult Your Dementia Therapist immediately.
However, according to most studies, the average life expectancy of a dementia patient is nearly ten years. But this number isn’t constant for all patients, so don’t use it as guidance. For example, many individuals are known to survive for long 26years after the first symptoms were diagnosed.
Some facts about the Life Expectancy of People with Dementia
Dementia causes confusion, forgetfulness, and communication issues that increasingly destroy the brain cells.
As the disease progresses, progressive brain cell death causes failure of the lungs, heart, and digestive system. It signifies a terminal condition.
Some research on the main forms of dementia showed different life expectancies. Let’s find out!
This is one of the most common dementia conditions when abnormal proteins steadily boost brain damage. Such a condition initially impacts memory, thought, and the person’s ability to remember, thereby leading to all body systems’ failure.
Generally, Alzheimer’s individuals have a life expectancy of nearly 8 to 12 years from the day of diagnosis. But it has no association with health or age. A relatively healthier and fit person can live longer than the estimated years.
However, Alzheimer’s persons aged 80 or more tend to decline more rapidly than those diagnosed nearly at age 65. But the fact is that a healthy and fit Alzheimer’s patient of 80 years can live happily in their 90s with the right treatment and care.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
A study revealed that individuals with Lewy Body Dementia have an average life expectancy of about 5 to 7 years after diagnosis. But one can live up to 20 years with this disease, based on their age and any medical condition they also may have, like Parkinson’s disease.
About 7% of the affected individuals suffer from Dementia Lewy Bodies. The tiny protein deposits, referred to as Lewy bodies, destroy the person’s ability to think, remember and move.
Vascular dementia might increase the chances of strokes in people suffering from it.
And repeated strokes destroy the brain. Thus, their health tends to decline more than those with other dementia types due to further strokes. However, vascular dementia progresses differently from that Alzheimer’s.
It may show steady symptoms for a while but suddenly get severe. The blood clot is known to intervene in the blood supply and causes brain damage.
So the average lifespan of people with vascular dementia is estimated to be nearly four years after onset.
Young-onset dementia is traditionally thought to entail patients who develop dementia before 65 years of age. However, this form of dementia is known to advance more rapidly.
In many instances, the disease is diagnosed in younger people when the condition has got severe. Thus, it appears to develop more rapidly than it does.
Pick’s Disease (Frontotemporal dementia)
People with frontotemporal dementia, also often called Pick’s disease, are known to survive for about eight years from the day they showed first symptoms.
Yet, this lifespan number will vary from one person to another. Many individuals affected with this dementia are known to survive over ten years.
Factors that Affect Life Expectancy of Dementia Patients
Several factors are essential in determining the number of years dementia patients will survive. It includes the type and severity of the disease, sex, age, health, and other medical conditions.
Type and Severity of Dementia
Each dementia form shows different progression rates and patterns. Some conditions can cause brain damage that ultimately leads to the terminal condition. However, the lifespan of a dementia individual decreases if the disease is diagnosed at advanced stages.
Dementia mostly affects old aged people when they might be already suffering from other chronic conditions. For example, weaker elders are more prone to infections, falls, or other severe conditions that can result in early death.
On the contrary, younger individuals of 60 to 65 years with dementia show a steady decline in health. So, they are likely to have more years of survival than older eighty-aged persons.
According to some studies, men with dementia, on average, may have less life expectancy than women with this condition. However, women appear to tolerate the last severe stages of dementia more.
Individuals with higher brain functional ability are more likely to survive longer. For example, many studies revealed that persons with advanced dementia who do most things themselves have more life expectancy.
The Good News!
You will be happy to know that the life expectancy of dementia patients is increasing. A significant reason behind it is the fact that people have become more concerned about the disease. The condition is being diagnosed in the early stages and getting better treatment and care.
So, chances are high that your loved one with dementia will survive many more years than the estimated survival rates.