People with dementia survive on average four and a half years after diagnosis

Jan 11, 2008

People with dementia survive an average of four and a half years after diagnosis, with age, sex, and existing disability all having an influence on life expectancy, finds a study published on bmj.com today.

The authors hope that these estimates will be of value to patients, carers, service providers, and policy-makers.

The number of people affected by dementia is estimated to double every 20 years to 81 million by 2040. Dementia is known to be associated with increased risk of death, but no estimate exists for actual survival with dementia in England and Wales. There is also considerable uncertainty about what influences survival.

So researchers set out to describe overall survival for people with dementia and to examine the association between factors which could affect survival.

The study involved over 13,000 individuals aged 65 years and above who were taking part in a population based study in England and Wales. Participants were assessed for dementia at regular intervals over a 14-year period 1991 to 2005.

Factors known to have an association with mortality, such as age, sex and marital status, accommodation type, education level, social class, self-reported health and disability were also recorded.

438 individuals developed dementia over the study period, of which 356 (81%) died.

Age, sex, and disability before onset all influenced survival independently.

There was nearly seven years difference in survival between the youngest and the oldest people with dementia (10.7 years for those aged 65-69 and 3.8 years for those aged 90 or over).

Average survival time from dementia onset to death was 4.1 years for men and 4.6 years for women.

There was around a three year reduction in survival between the most and least disabled at onset, suggesting that the frailer individuals are at higher risk, even after age is taken into account.

However, living in the community or residential home, marital status, and self-reported health were not associated with survival once other factors were taken into account.

Those with higher education had slightly shorter survival than those with lower education, but this did not reach statistical significance. Social class also showed no pattern

Knowing which factors influence the length of survival after onset of dementia is important, say the authors. These findings will be of value to patients, carers, service providers and policy-makers.

An accompanying editorial urges doctors to pay as much attention to strengths and retained abilities as they do deficits, dysfunction and disease when planning care and support for people with dementia.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Signal identified that prompts one kidney to grow larger when the other is lost

Related Stories

The monopoly of aluminium is broken

6 hours ago

Discovering Majorana's was only the first step, but utilizing it as a quantum bit (qubit) still remains a major challenge. An important step towards this goal has just been taken, as shown by researchers ...

Yik Yak's frat-bro founders shrug off growing pains

7 hours ago

The most popular post of all time on Yik Yak is a dirty joke. Less than 2 years old, the Atlanta-based social network is geared mostly toward college students who access and post unsigned announcements through an app on their ...

Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts

7 hours ago

A volcano in the Galapagos islands erupted for the first time in more than 30 years Monday, sending streams of lava flowing down its slopes and potentially threatening the world's only colony of pink iguanas.

Recommended for you

How sleep helps us learn and memorize

2 hours ago

Sleep is important for long lasting memories, particularly during this exam season. Research publishing in PLOS Computational Biology suggests that sleeping triggers the synapses in our brain to both streng ...

Hacking the nervous system

10 hours ago

When Maria Vrind, a former gymnast from Volendam in the Netherlands, found that the only way she could put her socks on in the morning was to lie on her back with her feet in the air, she had to accept that ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.