How quickly can Alzheimer's progress?

Temi asked...

My father was diagnosed in January 2008 with Alzheimer's, after a psychotic episode on a train. He rapidly went to late-stage and then end-stage and passed away very quickly on December 23, 2009. He was 76. I have not heard of someone with this aggressive form of Alzheimer's. Do you have any information on this that might help me to understand?

Expert Answer

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

Alzheimer's disease is usually diagnosed at least three years after the onset of symptoms. Your father might have the disease even longer before being diagnosed because psychosis appears relatively late in the course of Alzheimer's disease. Progression of Alzheimer's disease is accelerated by changes of the blood vessels in the brain resulting in small strokes. Your father might have these changes as well because combination of Alzheimer's disease and vascular changes that may themselves cause dementia is often found when brains of individuals dying with dementia are examined.