Question regarding longevity: Why did stiffness and difficulty moving cause short-term prognosis for client with Alzheimer's?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am a home care provider. I have a client with alzheimers. After a weekend episode in which my client became very stiff and difficult to move, the family panicked and took her to ER. The practitioners at the ER told my client's family that she would not be expected to live beyond 6 months to a year. Within a couple of days, my client came out of this stiff phase, and began to move around more like she did prior to the episode. Besides the stiff episode, incontinence, difficulty ambulating without aids, I don't see any reason to think that my client shouldn't live for several more years... she is in her early seventies, diagnosed only 2 years ago, or so. I have some clients who have had alzheimers for years and who are well into their 80s, and by all counts are relatively healthy, physically. My client, in my opinion, is no exception. Any thoughts?

Expert Answers

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

She may also have a variation of Alzheimer's, such as Lewy Body or Frontal Lobe, that has more neurological effects like spasms or stiffening. I would also suggest the doctor review her medication regimen for potential side effects of meds. None the less, life expectancy is difficult to predict but often the younger it hits, the quicker it progresses.

Community Answers

Ladislav volicer, md answered...

An acute onset of stiffness in your client indicates that she may have suffered a small stroke. This may decrease her life expectancy but it is no basis for 6 month to a year prognosis. Life expectancy of people with Alzheimer's disease is very difficult to predict and your client may life much longer.