What is the life expectancy of a person with Alzheimer's?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 15, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What is the life expectancy of a person with Alzheimer's?

Expert Answers

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health and caregiving; four of her family members have had dementia.

There's no simple answer. The general rule of thumb is that a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's can expect to live half as along as a peer who doesn't have the disease. For example, the average 75-year-old in 2007 can expect to live another 12 years. A 75-year-old with Alzheimer's, in contrast, would be expected to live for six more years.

It's hard to gauge an individual's life expectancy based solely on the stage of Alzheimer's. That's partly because the length of each stage(early/middle/late) can vary greatly from individual to individual. Some people live 15 or more years after diagnosis, including many years with relatively mild impairment, while others decline rapidly and die within a few years of being diagnosed. In general, someone who's just beginning to show symptoms can be expected to live longer than someone of the same age with end-stage Alzheimer's.

Here's more on what influences lifespan with Alzheimer's.

Community Answers

Happydoc answered...

As a physician who recognized the early signs of cognitive impairment in myself long before those around me, I found it difficult to explain what was happening to others. When the possibility was brought up by me, their response was 'That happens to everyone" or "Dad, you're just getting older." Even when I found I could no longer drive safely and decided to sell my automobile after backing into a 3 foot high pole which could have been a child, their denial remained. Perhaps as long as they themselves didn't admit I was developing a problem, they wouldn't have to have any special responsibility. I found this article useful and informative in that hoping I have early disease which may slowly progress, it is apparent that I need to take care of my health in general better than I have recently, even knowing to do so as a physician. My new self motto is "Hope for the best, but do the best I can to stay healthy in general." Thanks for putting on paper things that everyone needs to be reminded of.

M-mman answered...

This may sound cruel but I DO NOT want my 60y/o AD wife to have a chronologicaly long life. She does not need to 'survive' for another 20-30 years! AD is an incurable, terminal disease.

Sure, I want her to have good physical health as long as she can maintain functionality. BUT I dont think anyone should have to endure the last stages of AD. Her "life" will have ended long before she takes her last breath. If she makes it to the end stage I consider that we have both lost. I hope a heart attack or cancer takes her physical life long before the AD takes her soul.