According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 48% of nursing home residents have Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Thus, it's no surprise that being diagnosed with dementia can be a terrifying experience. A diagnosis of dementia is frequently unexpected, depending on the cause.
It makes sense for relatives and family to be concerned about the worsening symptoms of their loved ones with dementia and their life expectancy. What does this mean for your life expectancy once you've been diagnosed? Read on to know more.
It is beneficial to understand the disease's later stages so that you can make decisions about future care options. Memory loss, confusion, and other forms of cognitive impairment are joined by physical symptoms in the later stages of dementia.
Along with memory, the mental (cognitive) ability will deteriorate over time. It will be more difficult to concentrate, plan, organize, and complete basic tasks. Disorientation will also be more prevalent.
This is not to say that a person living with dementia cannot enjoy tasks and activities that they used to enjoy. For example, someone who enjoys knitting will still enjoy the tactile feel of wool and needles.
The person's ability to stand and walk unassisted is likely to deteriorate as the condition worsens. They will also be more susceptible to falls. Sedentism can lead to other medical conditions like bed sores and blood clots.
As a result, it is critical to encourage someone with dementia to move around as frequently as possible. Other factors to be vigilant about during the late stages of dementia are communication, eating habits, weight loss, incontinence, and other atypical behavior.
People often believe that dying at home provides more comfort, companionship, and peace than dying in a facility. Hospitals, on the other hand, offer the most lifesaving, high-tech care. There are sometimes worries that leaving the hospital will reduce the quality of care or that enrolling in hospice will be a sign of defeat.
According to a journal by the Bio-Med Central, the average time in a care home with dementia from onset to death projects the median survival time for an older adult with dementia is 4.1 years (IQR 2.5–7.6) for men and 4.6 years (IQR 2.9–7.0) for women. Survival varies significantly depending on the age of onset, with that diagnosed younger (between 65 and 69 years) potentially living for more than ten years.
Fortunately, the desire for home comforts and high-quality care does not have to be mutually exclusive. When a person's life expectancy is six months or less, scientific evidence shows that people live longer in hospice than in other healthcare options.
Read through our blogs at Senior Strong to learn more about other dementia home care tips and other dementia care activities.
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.