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What Is the Average Dementia Life Expectancy?

By Larry Ray Palmer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Dementia life expectancy is a measure of how long an average individual is expected to live after developing dementia. On the average, an individual diagnosed with dementia resulting from Alzheimer's disease will live 4.5 years beyond the diagnosis. While precise figures vary according to the cause of the dementia, age at the time of diagnosis, and other factors, dementia is considered an end-of-life symptom. What this designation means is simply that individuals who have been diagnosed with dementia are reaching the final stage of life. For some individuals, this final stage may last 10 years or longer, but other individuals pass through it in a much shorter period.

The average 4.5-year life expectancy for patients with Alzheimer's disease is further affected by several key factors. An otherwise healthy individual who is diagnosed with the condition prior to age 70 can be expected to live another 10 years, whereas those diagnosed past the age of 90 years usually lose the battle within 4 years of their diagnosis. The individual’s age, overall health and level of care all play crucial parts in his or her life expectancy.

Patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease go through seven stages of dementia. Each of these stages is marked by a further decline in cognitive abilities and memory. During the final stages of dementia, life expectancy for these patients may rapidly diminish as they lose the ability to respond to their environment.

Other diseases and syndromes can be responsible for the early onset of dementia, and life expectancy for these patients varies widely. Three relatively common causes of dementia in adults who are between 45 years and 65 years of age include multiple sclerosis (MS), Huntington's disease and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Patients with dementia brought on by MS can be expected to live an average seven years less than those who do not have dementia. The lifespan of those with Huntington's disease-related dementia is 15 years. Those with HIV who develop dementia have a life expectancy of up to 25 years if they do not succumb to other effects of the virus.

Dementia may also be brought on by the brain being deprived of oxygen and nutrients as a result of strokes or shrinking arteries. This is known as vascular dementia (VaD), and the average life expectancy for these patients is five years or less. Further factors, such as multiple strokes, high blood pressure or other risk factors, may increase the level of dementia suffered by the patient and shorten life expectancy.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1004637 — On Mar 19, 2021

My mother is almost 94. She is in the seventh stage of dementia. She can still get up and walk with her walker. She needs help with everything except feeding herself. She still knows our names. The people she sees (hallucinations)are more important to her than we are. They are also as real to her as we are. She lives with my sister and I live close by and help with her. It breaks our hearts to see her suffer with the things she sees and the confusion.

We pray for God to have mercy and take her home. I keep researching to try and and find out the life expectancy for a person in her condition. I understand it is an individual condition. Hoping it’s sooner than later, because she is not the Mom that loved and raised us. She is a shell. We can still make her laugh, but unfortunately she weeps a lot more. I wish there were more studies regarding dementia. My mom had a long and healthy life. She took only a couple prescriptions. I believe it had the greatest effects on her health.

By bagley79 — On Jan 19, 2012

@golf07 - I know how devastating dementia symptoms in a young person can be. My sister was diagnosed with an early onset type of this disease when she was in her early 50's.

When she was younger she had been involved in a traumatic car accident that left her with injuries to her brain.

As a result of this, she developed frontal lobe dementia symptoms. This was something that progressed very slowly at first, but continued to get worse over the course of several years.

Frontal lobe dementia life expectancy is usually around 8 years after diagnosis, and this turned out to be right on target for her.

What started out as a slow progression for the first few years, really became more rapid towards the end.

I think one of the best things families can do is seek help from others who have gone through it, or from professionals who are trained to help those going through this process. This is something you do not want to go through alone, as you need all the support and encouragement you can get.

By sunshined — On Jan 19, 2012

When my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, they told him and my grandma there were seven stages he would go through.

When you are the caretaker for the person who has this disease, these Alzheimer's stages can be hard to differentiate. This is a dementia disease that I think is just as hard on the caretaker as the patient.

It was very hard for my grandma to know when my grandpa had passed from the a moderate decline to a moderate severe decline. When she lived with him and took care of him everyday, it was hard for her to notice how much he was going downhill.

For someone like me who only saw him every few months, the changes were much easier to see. It was very hard to see how much he had declined between visits. I always wondered if he would recognize me the next time I had a chance to visit him.

He lived for about 6 years from the time he was diagnosed with this. It took 6 years for him to go through the 7 stages, but I know for my grandma many days seemed much longer than that.

By Mykol — On Jan 18, 2012

Both of my parents ended up with dementia, but they were both healthy and active until their 90's.

They never underwent any specific tests, but they knew their dementia was part of the aging process. Neither of them started having any symptoms until their mid 80's, so we knew their dementia prognosis would not get any better.

My mom seemed to have more problems than my dad, but eventually they could not stay in their own home because of it.

Some days when I would visit them they would be very sharp and clear with their memory. As they got older though, it became harder for them to recognize and remember things.

Their dementia was part of other physical problems that went along with their age. They lived a very active life up into their 80's, so we knew we had a lot to be thankful for.

Once the dementia symptoms were more frequent and consistent, they didn't live too much longer. It was still hard to see them struggle to think clearly when they had such sharp, intellectual minds.

By golf07 — On Jan 17, 2012

No matter when somebody starts having dementia symptoms, it is something that is confusing and hard on everyone in the family.

I find this particularly heartbreaking when it involves people who are still middle aged. We know a couple who just turned 60, and within the last month she had to be moved to a nursing home.

You could see her cognitive abilities decline over the last couple years. This has been diagnosed as Alzheimer's, and her mother was also diagnosed with this at an early age.

It has been very hard for her husband to watch this decline and finally realize he could no longer give her the care she needed.

Because she is so young, she could still live 10 years or so with this disease, and I know it will not be an easy road for them.

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