Is rapid deterioration normal for dementia patients?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Mom has deteriorated very rapidly. Is this normal with dementia. Hard to watch her go down. Read about it but the heart doesn't accept it even though my brain tells me what can happen with her.

Expert Answer

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.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get our hearts and our brains on the same rhythmn! The dilemma with making time lines is that each one is unique. Some folks, like your Mom, do have an extremely rapid demise and, yes, it is so difficult to watch. Others linger with a very slow downhill progression over the course of a decade or more. The statistical breakdown is probably 50-50. Although the course varies considerably, the manifestations over the two time periods still mimic one another. In your Mom's case, each symptom has a much speedier duration than for those with the longer journey. Do enjoy the special moments that remain for the two of you and remember to take care of you!