The stages can go back and forth, and be very different in each person. You could check with the Alzheimer's Association in your area for generalities, but I'm not sure they could give you much.
Some people live 20 years with Alzheimer's and others live five. Researchers aren't even sure when the disease begins, but it's likely long before there are any symptoms. The best approach, at this time, seems to be early intervention with appropriate drugs, after a diagnosis by a qualified specialist. Then, the stages will move forward, but for many people, at a slower rate than without treatment.
Hard facts? Tough to come by. Give your area office a call and see if they have something more definite.
It is a source of frustration for many people looking after someone with Alzheimer's that there is great individual variation in the course of the disease. Breaking down the disease into various stages, although somewhat arbitary, does provide some guidence, but that does not translate to time frames. So for some people progession from one stage to the next can be fast, in others, as Carol points out it can be a very long time.
Overall it has been estimated that Alzheimer's disease shortens life expectancy by about 5 years.
I second both responses above. Another piece that can have an effect on how quickly the Alzheimer's progresses is if the person has another disease. For instance, my mom had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) from smoking for way too many years. She had lost about 80 percent of her lung capacity. As her lung disease advanced, her mental capacity diminished more rapidly than it otherwise would.
Take care and keep us posted!
I like to share with you my experience that I had gotten from caring my father-in-law. We have 24 hours caregivers for him as we live out of town although we are with him more this year (6 months). He got the diagnosis in Nov., 2006. At that time, it was like early mid-Alzheimer's. He is kind of slow with this thing: as a MD., Ph.D., I think his knowledge helps to slow down his progression. But slowly each year, he is worse. This year he is more agitated and forgot his career in details. He can no longer walk a long distance (this happened in Oct., 2007.) It seems even stage 6 takes forever. He can still talk well although he has trouble to express himself at times. Now in Jan., he got congestive heart failure the second time. I was told by the home care nurse that he would not have 5 years due to heart failure. He will die of heart failure instead of Alzheimer's which is slowly eating him up and makes him depressed and confused at times.
My thinking is his Alzheimer's and heart failure may interplay together and he may die from both or either depending on the situation. I think for Alzheimer's he got a little longer than this heart failure thing. In any case, we all believe that with both diseases interplaying, he would get only 5 more years. The end stage of Alzheimers (stage 7) only takes about 1-3 years.
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