What it a person's life expectancy if they have late stage Alzheimer's?

3 answers | Last updated: Mar 15, 2017
Mamart asked...

I am a daughter and caregiver of my mother who is 88 years old, final stage of alzheimer's, meeting 5 out of 6 of the criteria on the list by carol. Mother is in good physical condition - no major medical issues and intact skin and maintains a good weight. She is on TPN and has speech and occupational therapy twice a week. She is starting to take one meal a day by mouth and doing very well. More than 90% of the time she doesn't know who I am. But there are those few times when she does know me and that is why I stay with her at home. Is there some kind of time frame after a person gets to late stage, final stage alzheimer's of their life expectancy? I have asked this question before and never ever get a definitive answer. But there has got to be some average???? My sisters and I want to keep Mother at home as long as we can but also have to think about the cost involved. Of course it is more than an issue of money. All of our lives are changed by this disease. Some sort of plan would be nice but it seems that Alzheimer's is also usurping any carefully laid plans by its victims and their families. Hope this question doesn't sound like whining and hope you have a substansive answer. Thanking you in advance for your reply.

Expert Answers

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.

It is impossible to provide prognosis for your mother because Alzheimer's disease does not cause death itself; death is caused by complications, most often pneumonia, and it is impossible to predict when she might develop such a complication. I am not sure that speech and ocupational therapy is doing any good for her and you might save some money if you stop that. TNP is also expensive and is depriving her of taste of food. You might want to consider stopping that and enroll her in hospice if she starts losing weight. You have to realize that she is in a terminal stage of her disease.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I agree an answer, guess, or average gives us something to use as a guide! I am providing this info I found on an Alz Society site as a guide. ... However, I also know first hand that each case is progresses on its own path. My mother and her identical twin sister both progressed differently. My mom is not in late stage (or last stage?), although her sister passed almost two years ago.

So here is what I have looked at: On average, people with Alzheimer's disease live for eight to ten years after their symptoms begin. Life expectancy does, however, vary considerably depending on how old the person is. For example, people diagnosed in their 60s and early 70s can expect to live for around seven to ten years, whereas someone diagnosed in their 90s will, on average, live for about three years. The length of time that someone with dementia can expect to live for also depends on whether they were diagnosed early on or later in the disease.

1985 answered...

I disagree with Dr. Lasislv Volicer. My husband had AD for 17 years and DID NOT die from complications. His body stopped functioning, i.e., walking, swallowing, breathing, etc. the death certificate says cause of death AD.