Dementia is not a medical condition but is a collection of symptoms of a disease. Dementia affects the memory of the patient to such an extent that performing daily activities becomes a challenge for them. Individuals with dementia at some point in their illness become dependent on others for their daily routine. Dementia is primarily caused due to damage to the nerve cells in the brain. The severity of dementia can be estimated by the damage caused to the brain and its location.
Some types of dementia are temporary and are caused due to medication reaction or vitamin deficiency and are successfully treated with medications while some types of dementia are permanent and worsen over period of time. These types of dementia are normally seen in the elderly population but in some cases even young people also have had memory loss due to dementia.
For an individual, a diagnosis of dementia can be extremely stressful. This is especially true when discussing the overall prognosis of dementia. This article highlights the overall prognosis of patients diagnosed with dementia.
How Long Do People Live After Being Diagnosed With Dementia?
It is quite unfortunate but the life expectancy of an individual with dementia is significantly less. However, how long will the individual live after the diagnosis is quite variable and depend on the primary cause of it. Below mentioned are some statistical data about the life expectancy of people diagnosed with various types of dementia. Please note that these are approximate figures and a general data and in no way meant to be the exact figure.
On an average, an individual with any form of dementia lives up to 10-12 years after the diagnosis, although some people have gone on to live for more than 20 years post diagnosis although there are other factors that decide the overall outcome.
Depending on the type of dementia, below mentioned are some of the statistics about life expectancy.
Dementia Due to Alzheimer Disease
An individual with Alzheimer Disease has an overall life expectancy of around 10 years from the time of diagnosis. This figure may go up or down depending on the age of onset and overall health condition of the patient. If the individual is fit and does not have any other underlying illness the life expectancy tends to increase. If an individual is diagnosed with Dementia of Alzheimer type at around age 60 then that individual may live up to 70-80 years depending on their health status. In some studies, data shows that people have lived for over 20 years post diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease.
Life Expectancy in Vascular Type Dementia
Vascular dementia is normally seen in people who have had a history of stroke. Such individuals have a poor health status due to the stroke than normal population and hence their life expectancy due to dementia is quite low. Statistics show that on an average an individual with vascular type dementia can live up to 5-6 years post the diagnosis even though the overall decline in health is more related to the after effects of stroke or more instances of stroke than dementia alone.
Life Expectancy in Lewy Body Dementia
Individuals with this type of dementia can live up to 5 years post the diagnosis. However, some people go on to live for more than 15 years after the diagnosis if they have no intercurrent medical condition like Parkinson Disease and are otherwise medically fit.
Life Expectancy in Dementia Due to Pick Disease
Pick Disease which is also referred to as frontotemporal dementia is quite a debilitating disease. The average life expectancy of an individual with dementia caused due to this condition is around 7 years from the time of diagnosis. This data again is variable and depends on the age and overall health status of the individual.
Dementia in the Young
Dementia diagnosed at a young age is extremely detrimental to the overall health of an individual. The life expectancy of such individuals is significantly limited due to the dementia progressing at a rapid pace. Why this happens is something that is still being researched. If an individual is diagnosed with dementia at the age of 30 will have a lower life expectancy than an individual diagnosed at the age of 60. This may range from 3-5 years less than the prognosis of an elderly individual.
All being said, the overall prognosis of individuals with dementia is ever improving. This is mainly because of the quality of care they receive and the research that is being continuously done in this regard.
How to Estimate Approximate Prognosis for People with Dementia?
It is well known that dementia affects people differently and prognosis differs from individual to individual. However, there are certain factors that may give an approximate idea as to how long an individual will live after diagnosis of dementia. These factors are:
- Age of the patient: Individuals who are above the age of 85 years tend to live for a shorter period of time
- Overall Health: Individuals who are fit and healthy at the time of diagnosis and have no intercurrent illness tend to live longer.
- Type of Dementia: The type of dementia also plays a part in the overall prognosis of the individual.
- Coping Skills: The ability of the patient to function and cope with the diagnosis is also a key factor in the overall prognosis. If the patient is not able to cope with the diagnosis, has poor support system, develops conditions like depression will have a shorter life expectancy than patients who have good support system which allow the patient to cope with the diagnosis positively.
Dementia is quite disabling both for the patient and the family. How long an individual will live after diagnosis is diagnosed by the extent of the illness, age, and overall health status of patient. However, more than this, it is the will power of both the patient and the family members and their willingness to fight the disease is what ultimately decides as to how long an individual will live after being diagnosed with dementia.
- Alzheimer’s Research UK. (2023). Dementia Statistics Hub. https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics-about-dementia/
- Mayo Clinic. (2023). Dementia: Symptoms and Causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352013
- Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). What Is Dementia? https://www.alz.org/alzheimer-s-dementia/what-is-dementia
- Alzheimer’s Society. (n.d.). Types of Dementia.https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/types-dementia
- Lewy Body Dementia: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment- Medication, Therapies
- Medications & Therapies To Treat Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
- How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia?
- Early Warning Signs of Dementia
- How Effective & Safe is Aricept in Treating Dementia Due to Alzheimer’s?
- How Does Dementia Kill You?
- Do all Parkinson’s Patients Develop Dementia?