My mom is 66 years old and was officially diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer's last year. 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. Is there anyway to predict how long the last 2 stages of alzheimer's would last?
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 others succumb within two years—unfortunately, there is no rhyme or reason. However, in the final stage of Alzheimer's it is the physical deterioration that often dictates the time frame. When people lose their ability to walk, spend more time in bed, become incontinent, and have difficulty taking food and fluids then chest and general infections begin to take their toll. It is rarely Alzheimer's that is the cause of death, it is the side effects of prolonged chronic immobility.
You may also notice behavioral changes in the last stages of Alzheimer's—this may indicate a shift to the last stages.
The National Hospice Organization Medical Guidelines Task Force 1995 found indicators of a 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.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.