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Saturday, April 18, 2009 Kelley A, Community Member, asks

Q: How long do stages 6 and 7 of alzheimer's last?

My mom is 66, has been having memory and cognitive problems for 5 years, and was forced to retire from teaching 4 years ago, but was officially diagnosed with vascular dementia and alzheimer's last year. Looking at the 7 stages of alzheimer's, she is functioning right now at the end of stage 5. It has seemed to progress pretty rapidly.  Is there anyway to predict how long the last 2 stages of alzheimer's would last for her? She went through stages 3 and 4 in about three years and has gone through stage 5 in about 1 year.  She has had no heart attacks, but has had one very small stroke.  She has had high blood pressure and high cholestrol, and is high risk for heart attack and stroke, but is on medication.

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Answers (5)
Christine Kennard, Health Pro
4/19/09 3:27pm

Hi Kelly A

 

The Stages of Alzheimer's are a guide to the different stages and have no time frame as such. Some people, following diagnosis of Alzheimer's can survive many years with the disease, while other succumb within two years. However in the final stage of Alzheimer's it is the physical deterioration that often dictates the time frame. When people loose their ability to walk, spend more time in bed, become incontinent, have difficulty taking food and fluids then chest and general infections take their toll. It is rarely Alzheimer's that is the cause of death, it is the side effects of prolonged chronic immobility.

 

The National Hospice Organization Medical Guidelines Task Force 1995 found there are indicators of six month time frame to death. They were:

Low Activity of Daily Living score, being male, having cancer, a need for oxygen therapy, heart failure, shortness of breath, no more that 25% of food eaten at most meals, an unstable condition, bowel incontinence, being bedridden, over 83 years of age and being asleep most of the day.

 

There is a link to more information that may be helpful

 

 Dying of Alzheimer's Disease

 

Christine

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nwgrandma, Community Member
5/ 8/13 5:37pm

thank you. dad is in the stage before the final one, has hbp, controlled by meds, art. defib, quad bypass, diab II, high colesterol, 4 blockages, also coradids not good, 35% heart working over time, bowl incontenence, sundowning, mood swings, takes long naps daily, has trouble swallowing, shortness of breath and is soon to be 84.  and more that i havent listed. lets put it this way, his pills are all that are keeping him alive. im wondering how long before the final stages of alz start, myself.  i care for him 24/7, with NO time for ME. he goes everywhere with me, as he can no longer drive either. , still dresses, showers, and other minor things, sits most of the day if hes not asleep., so little exercize even tho i try to get him to do little things. legs hurt, macular degenerate eye disease and hearing aids on top of it. he also lies alot and fakes things.. to where i even called 911, which was a fake on his part.  so any help will be greatly appreciated. i read and read and watch. thx again.. Deb

 

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Christine Kennard, Health Pro
5/ 9/13 7:19am

Thank you for your question. As you may know the stages of Alzheimer's only make general statements about symptoms, behavior and levels of disability. Your father is obviously failing but he could, in theory,  continue to live a number of years.

 

The level of care and attention he receives from you sounds wonderful. I think you highlight one of the main issues yourself, you need some time off, some 'me' time to recharge your batteries, get some unbroken nights of sleep. Being a caregiver can be very stressful and you do need some respite from your situation.

 

The Alzheimer's Association and your local social services will be able to tell you what is available in your area. Respite care can be in the form of Day care, support groups for the patient and their caregivers, short breaks of overnight care that give you a break.

 

It might be good to ask family members for help too. Could they help you?

 

Your father's doctor may be the best person to ask about his health and give you some guidance for long term care plans.

 

All my best wishes

Christine

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NC, Community Member
4/19/09 1:13pm

I am not sure about vascular dementia. But I know that for dementia including Alzheimer's, it is a very slow process. My father-in-law is at stage 6 and it has been so long that maybe in another one or two years, he would be in stage 7, the end stage. I wrote earlier in another answer but I could not find it now, anyway, for moderate Alzheimer's, it could take 5 to 10 years for stage 5 and 6. The end stage is usually one to three years because the patient is numb and cannot move anymore so it is to shut down naturally. For stage 6, it seems to take forever for my FIL. We kept thinking he is to be paralyzed or needs wheelchair since Oct. 2007, but he can still walk with a cane and he is talking fine but he cannot have 2-way street conversations anymore and he cannot read and understand the articles. He can still understand the words themselves. He cannot understand the whole meaning on anything.

 

For stroke, the issue if if they can control her stroke and etc as it can easily kill someone right away. So dementia in general is slower than any major disease, but it is very hard for caregivers.

 

Take care,

Nina

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NC, Community Member
4/19/09 1:22pm

My mom had minor stroke last April in 2008 too so she is on medications as well. But the doctor told her to be careful or she would get vascular dementia. I think in terms of blood disease or heart disease/stroke, the issue is if the doctor or the patient  can control the disease with diet, medications and exercise. One could be dead from stroke or heart attack, but the medicine is so advanced that the patients can be saved often.

 

However, for dementia, vascular dementia or Alzheimers, it is very slow. It could take 5 to 10 years before one goes down to the end stage. Usually the patients die from heart attack or heart failure and etc while the dementia was not that bad yet. If the patient has no problem with other issues, then it takes a long time. The end stage for Alzheimer's only lasts 1 or 3 years because at the end stage the patient is bedridden and has urine incontinence and etc.

 

Take care,

Nina

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Herdaughter, Community Member
3/18/13 12:16pm
I have been caring for my mother since her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in 2002. She has clearly been in the last stage since 2008. She could not walk, eat, bath or adjust her body without assistance. She has not been able to converse since before 2008 and now will say a few words, but very little. She has not been able to self adjust her body and can get locked in a position if not monitored and adjusted. Her body is becoming rigid so she requires massaging and stretching throughout the day. She is still eating fairly well with a softer diet. She was diagnosed in her late 60's with no other physical ailments. It's safe to say she has been in the last stage for 5 years at this writing. Reply
Christine Kennard, Health Pro
5/ 9/13 7:29am

I am so sorry that I did not reply to you before.I must have been away when your comments went live.

 

Thank you for contacting us here at Health Central. I cared for my father for a number of years so have some insight into the job you do of caregiving to your mother. It is so sad when loved ones go through such long periods of ill health. Your mother's total dependence and profound disabilities that have resulted from Alzheimer's are very distressing. Is she cared for in a nursing home?

 

Christine

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
5/ 9/13 7:38am

My heart goes out to you. My dad had dementia brought on my surgery that lasted ten years. It tore my heart out at times. 

 

Watching our loved one's health decline is tough, but it's the quality of life they lose that is the worst. I'm sure there are times when you feel that the suffering will never end  - hers and yours.

 

I hope you are in contact with the doctor about when hospice care is a possibility, because if your mother is experiencing pain, hospice can manage that well. They also offer support to the family. You mother may not be considered terminally ill yet, though Alzheimer's is a terminal illness. It all depends on the doctor.

 

Take care of yourself the best you can.

Blessings,

Carol

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loving daughter, Community Member
3/12/14 6:37pm

hi my mother is in a stage 7a..that was just tole to us on monday..the doctor want me to take her off of the alzheimers med..but i tole him not now...she is in good health over all no heart problem..she is just weak..shortness of breath..is a wise thing to take her off meds..thanks..

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
3/13/14 8:07am

Hi Loving daughter,

I'm assuming that you mother's doctor knows that she is in a terminal stage of her disease (Alzheimer's) and that is why he feels treating it is no longer necessary. Sometimes, withdrawing medications can free the person of side effects and he or she feels better for a time.

 

You are the one who knows what your mother would want, but if the doctor feels that your mother has less than six months to live, hospice can keep her very comfortable. Some people get better under hospice care and go off the program. Others, of course, do not. Since Alzheimer's is a terminal disease, it's good to have a frank talk with the doctor.

 

Blessings,

Carol

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By Kelley A, Community Member— Last Modified: 03/13/14, First Published: 04/18/09