It’s a sad and unfortunate fact that dementia reduces life expectancy. Although life expectancy varies greatly between individuals living with dementia, dementia is nonetheless progressive and will therefore gradually worsen with time.
The hopeful news is that the average life expectancy for a person with dementia is getting better all the time as people are being diagnosed earlier and receiving care sooner, however, estimating life expectancy continues to remain not only emotionally challenging but difficult to accurately predict how long you can live with dementia.
In this small guide, we will discuss the stages of dementia life expectancy, including what you and your loved ones can expect during the final stages.
If you or a loved one are living with dementia and feel that you could use some extra support, do not hesitate to contact us. At the Good Care Group, we have over 10 years of experience helping individuals living with dementia continue to thrive at home despite the challenges of their condition.
What is the life expectancy for someone with dementia?
Dementia is a life-limiting condition, which means that its progress can only be slowed and not reversed through treatment. There are a number of genetic and lifestyle factors that go into estimating the life expectancy of someone living with dementia. The type of dementia diagnosed, the severity of the condition, the individual’s age, sex, and overall health, will all have an effect on the progression of dementia.
The average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with dementia is 10 years. The reality is that dementia progresses differently for each person and some individuals have gone on to live for decades despite their diagnosis.
The way that healthcare officials determine life expectancy for dementia is through the Global Deterioration Scale or Reisberg Scale. This scale shows the average life expectancy of someone with dementia based on when an individual was diagnosed and the current stage of their condition.
What factors affect life expectancy with dementia?
There are many factors that can affect life expectancy with dementia. Some of the most prominent include:
Age: Age is one of the most important factors when predicting dementia life expectancy. Many people diagnosed with dementia are older adults that may already have other chronic conditions. Individuals diagnosed with young-onset dementia typically live longer and have a slower progression of symptoms.
Type of dementia: The type of dementia influences not only life expectancy but also how quickly the dementia will progress.
Severity at diagnosis: How far the dementia has already progressed at the time of diagnosis can be an indicator of life expectancy. Late-stage and advanced dementia life expectancy is typically lower than early dementia
Overall health: People who enjoy generally good health and wellbeing are likely to have a longer life expectancy than those with other chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Life expectancy by type of dementia
There are many types of dementia and each of these diseases will have a different life expectancy and speed of progression.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and it is one of the easiest to diagnose. Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed during the early stages when memory loss and language problems first begin to manifest.
The average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s type is from 8 to 12 years. Life expectancy with Alzheimer’s varies greatly between individuals, so a person that is healthy and enjoys generally good health may live for much longer.
Repeated small strokes can cause severe damage to the brain and may lead to a form of dementia known as vascular dementia.
The progression of vascular dementia varies heavily from other forms of dementia. While with Alzheimer’s type the progression of the disease is slow and gradual, with vascular dementia the symptoms may be steady for a while and suddenly deteriorate without warning.
The average life expectancy for vascular dementia is 4 years. However, since vascular dementia is closely linked to strokes, a person’s condition may change at any time.
Dementia with Lewey bodies
Dementia with Lewey bodies is another rare form of dementia. Lewey body dementia is caused by an overabundance of “Lewey bodies”, or tiny protein deposits, in the brain. An abnormal amount of Lewey bodies is associated with both dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
The average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with dementia with Lewey bodies is 5 to 7 years. This may be partially caused by the difficulties in diagnosing dementia with Lewey bodies and the resulting delay in treatment.
Frontotemporal dementia is a rare form of dementia that causes progressive damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. This form of dementia is characterised by personality changes and speech and language problems.
The average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia is between 6 to 8 years, although this can vary greatly between individuals. Regrettably, this type of dementia progress much more quickly in individuals between the ages of 35 and 50
What to expect in the last stages
It can be difficult to know when a person with dementia is reaching the final stages of their condition. Late-stage dementia symptoms such as a sudden deterioration of physical and mental health may be a sign that a person is reaching the end of their life.
In the later stages of dementia, problems like confusion, memory loss, and behaviours that challenge become more frequent. In this stage, physical symptoms such as eating less, having trouble swallowing, or incontinence may begin to manifest.
Dementia is a condition that causes severe cell damage to different parts of the brain. While this damage begins in the areas of the brain that control memory and language, it will eventually spread to the parts of the brain that controls other bodily functions. Sadly, this will eventually cause many of the body’s essential organs to stop functioning.
How home care can help
If you are caring for someone at home that is living with dementia, you may benefit from live-in dementia care. Live-in care allows your loved one to receive quality dementia care whilst remaining in the comfort of their own home. A highly-trained and well-matched professional carer will move into their home and provide dedicated care and attentive support for the person.
At The Good Care Group, we have been innovating live-in dementia care for over 10 years. Our professional and compassionate carers are well-versed in a wide range of best dementia care practices designed to reassure your loved ones, reduce stress and anxiety and facilitate communication.
We adopt a multidisciplinary approach to care and collaborate closely with healthcare professionals, academic bodies, and leading dementia charities. Each of our professional carers is trained in the SPECAL method which allows them to communicate efficiently, reduce distress and anxiety, and calm behaviours that challenge.
As your loved one nears the final stages of dementia, palliative care is also available. An expertly trained carer in end-of-life care will help effectively manage symptoms and medications while providing discreet and sensitive personal care and emotional support. This allows individuals with dementia to pass peacefully in their much-loved homes surrounded by family and friends rather than in a hospice setting.
We are dedicated to providing outstanding and reliable care at home for people living with dementia and their families. Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your dementia care needs.
Talk to us about your care needs
To talk about your care needs, contact one of our friendly advisors. Calls from landlines are free.