1. Expert Q&A: Living well as a carer - Thurs 29 August, 3-4pm

    As a carer for a person living with dementia, the needs of the person you care for will often come before your own. You may experience a range of difficult emotions and you may not have the time to do all the things you need to do. Caring can have a big impact on both your mental and physical health, as well as your overall wellbeing.

    Angelo, our Knowledge Officer (Wellbeing) is our expert on this topic. He will be here to answer your questions on Thursday 29 August between 3-4pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

Life expectancy of someone with dementia

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Boldredrosie, Nov 27, 2016.

  1. Boldredrosie

    Boldredrosie Registered User

    Mar 13, 2012
    This is going to sound gory but I was wondering if anybody has any insight into life expectancy of someone with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease/vascular dementia?

    We all of us expected my mum to die before my dad as she had had a string of fairly serious illnesses and I've sat next to her deathbed three times without her leaving us. Of course, it was my poor old dad who predeceased her and I'd say that now, with the exception of the dementia and some painful knees, her health is fine. I managed to get her into a good care home this spring, where they care for her and all the other residents like loved relatives so she is finally much better off than she ever was living with me. She's 86 in a couple of weeks and although I think she's had dementia since the turn of the century, I can see her bobbing along happily for years to come.

    What are other people's experiences and knowledge of life expectancy in the frail elderly who are properly cared for?
  2. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    Just my experience - my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2000 and died in July 2016. As you can see he had almost 16 years from his diagnosis. His death was caused by choking which resulted in aspiration pneumonia. I believe if that incident hadn't happened he would have lived a while longer. He was in reasonably good physical health for an 86 year old. He lived at home with me and we had the support of excellent carers at home. We got out and about a lot. I have a friend whose husband had Alzheimer's and he was dead within 2 years of his diagnosis. He was only 70 and was in good physical health. His dementia progression was rapid. Everyone is different.
  3. Boldredrosie

    Boldredrosie Registered User

    Mar 13, 2012
    I'm so sorry Izzy; that must have been a dreadful experience for you & him, obviously. Yes everybody is different and my mother is remarkably resilient. Actually, all her siblings are.
  4. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    Thank you that's kind of you.
  5. Digilux108

    Digilux108 Registered User

    Nov 7, 2016
    #5 Digilux108, Nov 27, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
    It varies because dementia affects different people in different ways. My mother had AD and vascular dementia. She died on 3 August because of aspiration pneumonia.

    Her problems developed gradually after a fall in September 2009. She was OK up until July 2014, although she did show signs of uncharacteristic behavior and memory loss. In July 2014 she was hospitalized for a week. The GP said it was a chest infection (she did sound wheezy), but the hospital said it was a mild heart attack. Sometime between July 2014 and March 2015 she had a minor stroke (no visible signs) because when we took her to have a CT scan in mind March it revealed:

    “Significant diffuse cortical cerebral and celebrellar atrophy with enlarged ventricles and prominence of temporal horns. Old lacunar infarct of the right caudate. No evidence of an acute event."

    From March 2015 to end of July 2016 her deterioration was significant. Having said that, on 14 July I called the ambulance because she was choking and sounded very wheezy, but she was a fighter and came home on 24 July.On the 30th the problem repeated and so back to hospital. This time she gave up the fight.
  6. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    OH had memory issues about 2003, not diagnosed ( for various good reasons) until 2007, Alzheimer's plus vas dem. Died July 2015 with chest infection, which I think might have been aspiration pneumonia, although he did have a chest infection two months earlier. Age at death, 82.
  7. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    So sorry, Izzie. You are so kind to those of us starting this journey xxx
  8. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    Mum was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia at age 70 in 2011.
    The specialist at that time said it was a slow growing type of Leukemia and given her age, she would more than likely die from something else first.
    I was quite angry at the way he handled the whole thing :mad:

    In 2012 Mum was diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer. had surgery, no further treatment.

    In 2013, diagnosed with Alzheimers.

    Mum now at 75 has stable CLL, and otherwise quite well physically.
    Her Alz did progress quite rapidly over these last 3 yrs, and went into care in July.
    I beleive it will be an infection due to her CLL and inablity to fight it, that will probably be it rather than her Alzheimers.
  9. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    ... oh thank you. xx

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  10. dottyd

    dottyd Registered User

    Jan 22, 2011
    My mum was 88 when she died a few weeks ago.
    She has been fighting it for 10 years and in care for 4.

    She was in good health till September and looked like she had several good years in her.
    I don't really know what happened. Something was obviously brewing and she took ill, possibly something in an organ or bowel and she died 2 months later.
    I'm pleased it happened quite quickly band she didnt go even further down the spiral.

    She'd lost most of her recognisable speech towards the end but stayed very mobile right up until September.
    If mum had stayed at home she would not have lived as long as this.

    If they have the sort of dementia where they don't get too stressed then they can possibly go on for quite some time. My aunt is 96 and still going strong.
  11. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    It's an impossible question to answer in my view. Life expectancy throughout the UK varies quite significantly for one thing, the other is that having AZ may make you fall off the perch earlier for other reasons, things like undiagnosed illnesses as the PWD isn't capable of saying that there's something feels wrong with them in the way you and I would so they only find out when it's too late to treat.
    Any of us may have underlying symptoms like high blood pressure or high blood sugar, so without a regular check up they can go unnoticed, so again could be discovered too late to help.
    Other factors come into play too like the higher fall risk or in a care home the risk of someone pushing you, my wife got her wrist broken this way.
    At 63 and with no (known) other medical conditions my wife, according to an on line postcode life expectancy checker will make it to 86.3 years, but if I put in a postcode 3 or 4 miles down the road (one of the more deprived areas) that goes down by over 4 years, nearly 5 years just a 10 minute drive away.
    One person on here was still posting cogent and well written posts 16 years after diagnosis and I've no doubt there are others still doing so.
  12. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    This year my 90 yr old mum has had 3 bouts of pneumonia, a stroke, umpteen UTIs and a bout of oral thrush. 3 times I have been told that we were looking at the end, but she has bounced back - I never thought she would last the year and here we are nearly at Christmas. Its a roller-coaster and I have frequently asked myself how much more my mum can take. Who knows? Im sure I dont, so you have my sympathy Boldredrosie.
  13. Mal2

    Mal2 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2014
    Everyone is so different with this awful disease. Impossible to say, how long. My husband has had 'D' for 16 years. I have him at home with me. He enjoys good health, had a UTI in 2012, but, has been good since. He is happy and a very 'cheeky' lad ;) No big conversations, obviously, but, sweet little comments, and enquiries of something or other daily. I hope he will go on for many years to come. Wishing your Mam many good years ahead. Good luck. M xxx :)
  14. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    North Manchester
    My wife lasted 3½ years from diagnosis to death.

    A common statement on many sites, including AS, is that life expectancy is halved.

    I've just spent some time plodding through actuarial sites and the best simple to understand information I've come up with is shown below. Note the referenced document is now archived, going to the ONS site and searching is not that easy.


    Attached Files:

  15. lemonjuice

    lemonjuice Registered User

    Jun 15, 2016
    Usefil as a guide, but bear in m ind what others have said about everyone being unique and different.

    9 years ago at 80 I thought my mother might not live to see her 81st birthday, in view of her dementia and pre-existing heart problems. Yet soon she will be 89! That's double the 'expected' 4.4 years for someone over 80!
  16. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    From that table Bill's expectancy was 4.5 years. As I said he was coming up for 16 years since diagnosis. He was also showing signs of dementia before diagnosis of course.
  17. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    North Manchester
    My wife lasted 3.5 years and not the 5.8 shown on the table.

    Agreed that the table in one sense is just a guide but it comes from actual ONS statistics and is the best we have.

    Annuity rates for impaired life and premiums for life insurance will be based on it.

    It also begs two questions, 'how to you determine when somebody has dementia so you can start the clock ticking?' and 'is dementia easier to spot in a young person than an older one?'.

    Digressing a bit.

    With a non-impaired life genetics appears to have a large influence

    As well as life expectancy (LE), disability free life expectancy (DFLE) is now being tabulated. This has been brought about by increases in the standard of living and introduction of new medications. The increasing gap between LE and DFLE is worrying.
  18. Mal2

    Mal2 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2014
    The chart result would be the same for my OH, as Izzy's Bill, signs of 'D', prior to the diagnosis being 2/3 years.
    I have also known and heard of sufferers with Alzheimer's, appearing to pass quicker than those with 'D'. My brother's Sil was diagnosed with Alz's, within a year she had passed. As said, it is impossible to know, there are too many factors.
  19. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    #19 Witzend, Nov 28, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
    My mother showed the first signs at 81 or 2, though I do lose track now. She finally went into a care home at 89 - dementia pretty bad by then - and died with very advanced Alzheimer's at 97.
    During her nearly 8 years in the CH I saw so many other residents arrive, deteriorate - some considerably faster than others - and go.
    I think even the staff had begun to think my mother would go on for ever.
    So much will IMO depend on the person's general,health to start with. My mother had a very strong constitution and came from a large and long-lived family, but even so nobody was really expecting her to last as long as she did. And to be honest, given the pitiful state she was reduced to during her very last years, it would have been more merciful if she could have slipped away sooner.
  20. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    My mum is 90 in April and was diagnosed 5 years ago, but probably had mild dementia for a few years before. I think she is in late moderate/early late stage, which I read can be the longest stage. She is incontinent and unable to feed or care for herself without carers. Apart from dementia her GP says she is very fit and only on simvastin and aspirin. She could live for another 5 years, or suddenly get ill and die within a few months.

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