Key takeaways. Dementia is not a disease. It's a decline in the ability to reason, communicate, remember, and function in life. While dementia itself may not cause death, the result of progressive brain disorders eventually cause death.
“Dementia is a terminal illness; as the end of life approaches, the pattern in which patients with advanced dementia experience distressing symptoms is similar to patients dying of more commonly recognized terminal conditions, such as cancer.”
Results: The two most common causes of death were bronchopneumonia (38.4%) and ischaemic heart disease (23.1%), whilst neoplastic diseases were uncommon (3.8%).
Overview of disease progression
The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease worsen over time, although the rate at which the disease progresses varies. On average, a person with Alzheimer's lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.
Life expectancy is less if the person is diagnosed in their 80s or 90s. A few people with Alzheimer's live for longer, sometimes for 15 or even 20 years.
Patients with dementia or Alzheimer's are eligible for hospice care when they show all of the following characteristics: Unable to ambulate without assistance. Unable to dress without assistance.
Dementia is progressive. This means symptoms may be relatively mild at first but they get worse with time. Dementia affects everyone differently, however it can be helpful to think of dementia progressing in 'three stages'.
Families often ask “are dementia patients aware of their condition?” In some cases, the short answer is no, they're not aware they have dementia or Alzheimer's.
People with dementia often experience changes in their emotional responses. They may have less control over their feelings and how they express them. For example, someone may be irritable, or prone to rapid mood changes or overreacting to things. They may also appear unusually uninterested in things or distant.
Sleeping more and more is a common feature of later-stage dementia. As the disease progresses, the damage to a person's brain becomes more extensive and they gradually become weaker and frailer over time.
Many people affected by dementia are concerned that they may inherit or pass on dementia. The majority of dementia is not inherited by children and grandchildren. In rarer types of dementia there may be a strong genetic link, but these are only a tiny proportion of overall cases of dementia.
increasing confusion or poor judgment. greater memory loss, including a loss of events in the more distant past. needing assistance with tasks, such as getting dressed, bathing, and grooming. significant personality and behavior changes, often caused by agitation and unfounded suspicion.
Wandering and becoming lost is common among people with Alzheimer's disease or other disorders causing dementia. This behavior can happen in the early stages of dementia — even if the person has never wandered in the past.
Patients must have reached stage 7 on the scale to be eligible for hospice, which means they are unable to dress, use the bathroom, bathe or walk without help and have trouble speaking and expressing thoughts.
Stages 7: Very Severe Decline
Stage seven is the final stage of Alzheimer's. Because the disease is a terminal illness, people in stage seven are nearing death. In stage seven of the disease, people lose the ability to communicate or respond to their environment.
Patients with dementia are eligible to receive hospice care if they have a diagnosis of six months or less to live if the disease progresses in a typical fashion.
Sadness and Crying
As Alzheimer's progresses, your loved one may start to behave differently. They may feel sad and cry more often. Crying about little things is common in certain types of dementia because those little things affect areas of the brain that control emotions.
Experts believe both genetic factors (variants of genes passed down from mom and dad) and modifiable lifestyle factors (diet, smoking, physical activity) all play a role in the development of dementia, perhaps in concert.
Women are more likely than men to develop dementia in their lifetimes. One of the main reasons for the greater prevalence of dementia among women is the longer life expectancy of women. of people living with dementia are women.
When you are with someone who has Alzheimer's disease, you may notice big changes in how they act in the late afternoon or early evening. Doctors call it sundowning, or sundown syndrome. Fading light seems to be the trigger. The symptoms can get worse as the night goes on and usually get better by morning.
Bathing can be a challenge because people living with Alzheimer's may be uncomfortable receiving assistance with such an intimate activity. They may also have depth perception problems that make it scary to step into water. They may not perceive a need to bathe or may find it a cold, uncomfortable experience.
During the middle stages of Alzheimer's, it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep the person with dementia safe. As the disease progresses into the late-stages, around-the-clock care requirements become more intensive.