Seasons’ recent article is entitled “How long do people live after a dementia diagnosis?” Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one type of dementia, but there are other types.
Experts say that on average, a person with dementia can live a comfortable and happy life for another 15 to 20 years. However, that’s just an estimate. The key is to provide a loving, supportive environment for the individual suffering from dementia with the assistance of medications and the health care community looking to their future needs.
Some recommendations for caring for your loved one with dementia include providing support, keeping them socially active and creating a family network that includes activities like playing games, talking, watching movies, walking, or spending time together.
Research has shown that social connection and keeping active is the best therapy for an individual with dementia.
In addition, a care team with expertise in dementia care is vital. This includes a geriatrician (a physician with expertise in caring for the elderly), a geriatric nurse practitioner and social workers with expertise in dementia or AD. You should also talk to an elder law attorney to plan for end-stage and end-of-life decisions.
Navigating all the issues concerning the care of someone with newly diagnosed dementia can be overwhelming. One of these resources is the Alzheimer’s Association. They have a lot of information about support, insurance, research, local resources and the progression of the disease itself.
Early planning for the future is the best way to support a loved one with dementia. If possible, when the diagnosis is first made (and the loved one is still able to make decisions), conduct a family meeting to discuss care decisions for the future. This can alleviate confusion and anxiety as dementia progresses. It is optimal if the person with dementia can be involved in care decisions for themselves.
Knowing the stages of dementia is important and takes away a lot of the mystery and fear of the disease. Medications can help minimize the progression of dementia in AD, but they won’t cure dementia or eliminate its progression.
There’s really no one good answer to this question. Life expectancy depends on the stage of dementia, how fast it progresses and the types of support the person with dementia can receive from family, friends and health professionals.
Reference: Seasons (Nov. 20, 2022) “How long do people live after a dementia diagnosis?”