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How Long Do People Live With Dementia – Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning symptoms get worse over time. But everyone’s journey is different. Life expectancy for dementia depends on the stage of dementia and the general health of the affected person.
Doctors recognize 7 stages of dementia, although some prefer to use the terms ‘early’, ‘middle’ and ‘late’ or ‘late stages’ to describe the dementia patients experience.
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In the early stages of dementia, symptoms are mild and hardly noticeable. At first, family members and colleagues may not know that the affected person has problems with memory and thinking. As the condition progresses, memory and thinking problems become apparent. Affected individuals may struggle to complete routine activities such as dressing or preparing meals. Their sleeping patterns may change; Some people with dementia sleep during the day and often wake up at night. May wander. On average, early dementia lasts about 2 to 4 years.
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As midlife dementia progresses, individuals lose control of their bowels and bladder. They may forget the names of family members and longtime friends and are often completely unaware of the date and time and their current location. Intermediate dementia lasts an average of 2 to 10 years.
In the late stages of dementia, most people are dependent on others for dressing and bathing; Help is also needed to eat and some patients have trouble swallowing food and drink. They are susceptible to infections including pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Eventually, people with end-stage dementia lose the ability to walk and talk. The body gradually shuts down completely. Some people with dementia die from dementia-related infections. Others succumb to another disease, such as heart disease or cancer.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent cause of dementia. Most people develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease after age 60; However, some people may start to notice Alzheimer’s symptoms in their 40s or 50s.
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There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but some medications can slow the progression of symptoms. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Starting treatment early in the disease process can help maintain daily functioning for a while.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a person with Alzheimer’s lives an average of 4 to 8 years after diagnosis. However, some people live with dementia for up to 20 years.
Lewy body dementia is a form of dementia characterized by the development of abnormal deposits (called Lewy bodies) in the brain. People with Lewy body dementia have problems with movement as well as cognitive decline. Thinking problems usually appear before movement problems. As Lewy body dementia progresses, affected individuals may also experience visual hallucinations and sleep problems.
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Life expectancy for a person with Lewy body dementia is approximately 2 to 8 years after the onset of visible symptoms.
Vascular dementia is caused by changes in the blood supply to the brain. This can be caused by a series of small strokes over time. Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia prognosis and life expectancy can vary greatly. Taking steps to improve your overall health can slow the progression of symptoms. Your health care provider will help manage dementia with medication to maintain mental function and help with behavioral changes. At the end of mid-stage dementia, most people need round-the-clock care, so the caregiver plays an important role in end-of-life.
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Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a registered nurse turned author. He is also the creator of BuildingBoys.net and co-creator/co-host of the podcast On Boys: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men. Most recently, she is the author of The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son’s Formative Years.
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Anne is a person living with dementia who tells her story of finding hope after her diagnosis and seeking medical help before finding a new life with dementia. She has Buttons, one of two rabbits she has.
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Annie describes the past two years, when she’s lived with dementia, as being on a roller coaster — except instead of staying safely inside, she’s been hanging onto rails, leaping and hitting trellises.
“I never know what’s going to happen and it can be really painful at times,” said the Hamilton resident, who asked to be identified by her middle name for fear of repercussions from family members who might see her as disabled.
Anne, 61, is one of thousands of Hamiltonians living with dementia. Facing challenges at work, in her social life and at home before the early signs of Alzheimer’s were diagnosed in 2019, she struggled with her mental health and quickly fell into despair.
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Having cared for family members with dementia since she was a teenager and never married or had children of her own, Annie’s greatest fear was the uncertainty of when and how she would die. She has previously worked with long-term care management and knows nursing home conditions well. She worried that she would spend her last days alone in a nursing home, surrounded only by strangers.
“I wanted to make sure I had everything before my mind went and I couldn’t speak for myself,” she said. “It really scared me.”
Today, Annie is a member of the working group supporting the Empowering Dementia Friendly Communities initiative – a Hamilton Council on Aging project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada to improve the lives of people with dementia and their relatives.
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On August 13, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that the Hamilton Council on Aging, a non-profit charitable group, will receive more than $810,000 over four years for a plan to help Hamilton and Haldimand County become more inclusive of people with dementia. .
The first step in developing a plan involves talking to community members with dementia and their carers about their experiences. The Hamilton Council on Aging conducted interviews with community members and recently completed an online survey seeking public input to inform their next steps.
Anne’s journey with dementia began about 10 years ago when she began to lose interest in all aspects of her social life. The former public speaker was very involved in the community but she could no longer keep commitments.
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She also had trouble remembering things like her debit PIN, bill due dates and her keys. She had tremors, difficulty walking and difficulty finding words, although she knew what she wanted to say.
He dealt with finances in his job in the city and sometimes found his funds insufficient.
“I used to bring money to work and if I was short, I would just put money in,” she said. “I didn’t tell anyone.”
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There have been several fires in her home — two that required the fire department — from forgetting to turn off the oven or stove.
She also saw a change in her personality. She became more withdrawn and although she was never an angry person, she became angry at things that did not affect her.
In 2016, Annie saw her doctor about her memory and mobility problems. He had a series of tests indicating some cognitive impairment. A neurologist suggested it could be early onset Alzheimer’s and prescribed medication.
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In 2017, when Anne’s forgetfulness worsened and her co-workers began to express concern, she began holding months of meetings with her supervisors, managers, human resources and her union to find strategies and adjustments. His memory problems led him and his supervisors to agree in the spring of 2018 that he was no longer able to work.
In October 2019, after several tests, her neurologist confirmed that Anne had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, causing her dementia.
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, dementia is not a specific disease, but a group of symptoms such as memory loss and language difficulties caused by physical disorders affecting the brain.
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Alzheimer’s – a fatal disease that destroys brain cells and worsens over time – is the most common cause of dementia. Although there are drugs that can treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, there is currently no cure for the disease.
A person with dementia faces difficulties in at least two cognitive areas — for example, memory problems that are not normal for the person’s age, language problems and problems with problem solving, Dr. Christina Gozmerak, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.
“The other part of it is that these deficits have affected this person’s ability to take care of themselves,” she said. This may include help taking medication, remembering appointments or maintaining personal hygiene.
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“Depression and suicide (dementia) are not uncommon in the early stages,” said Mary Burnett, executive director of the local Alzheimer’s Society.
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