Is my husband's dementia typical for a 72 year-old?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 02, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband has recently been diagnosed with moderate dementia. He is 72 years-old. I would like to know if this is where a 72 year-old man should be. He took several tests and failed all with a score of 1 or -1 on everything but a test that showed he has learned to cope with his disability. His score on this was average. His mother had Alzheimer's and his dad angina. Also, how fast will this progress?

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

How I wish I knew how to define where a person should be in dementia progression r/t age or other factors. Unfortunately it is difficult, at best, to determine whether someone is in the early, mid, or late stage of the disease as the stages overlap. Without meeting your Dad and reviewing the tests you refer to, I would be unable to know how he is doing in the dementia progression. Age actually has little to do with the progression and although many experts vary on how age relates to how swiftly the disease may progress, most are in accord that care and support and socialization may have more bearing on the length of time someone lives with AD. Each is wonderfully unique even though the manifestations may be similar. Our friend, Lisa Gwyther, has been quoted as saying "when you've met one Alzheimer person, you've met one Alzheimer person". Great advice to remember!

Community Answers

Niclwil answered...

First off, "normal" 72 year olds do not have dementia. If you are asking if this is just normal aging, the answer is a resounding NO. No one can tell you what the average progression of dementia is because every single patient is different. Have they told you which form of dementia your husband has? They progress differently and it is helpful to know the type. The Alzheimers Association has a variety of articles on their web site which are very helpful for all kinds of dementia. You have started the right process by looking for information. At this point you need to become a researcher and study up on dementia. My husband is nearly 75 and was diagnosed 4 years ago with Alzheimers. Good luck, you have a very long and difficult journey ahead of you.

Cathypet answered...

I thought I would let you know that my Dad has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers and he is a very fit and active 70 year old. There was no family history or illness and he has never even taken an aspirin his whole life so this was more a shock to us than anything else. It is true that every single patient is different and the best thing we can do as his family is accept it, research it (educating yourself is a wonderful thing!)and keep laughing as a sense of humour is vital. Managing the symptons is the only way forward for us. His attitude is wonderfully positive and I know he has his moments especially when he knows one of us is upset by what this cruel disease can do to a person you love. So if he can be such an inspiration and handle this disease with such dignity I realised so can I. Yes there is a tough road ahead for us but there must be reason for it? Stay positive and laugh regularly and a cry every now and then is good too! All the very best.