Dementia Life Expectancy and Outlook

Medically Reviewed By Shilpa Amin, M.D., CAQ, FAAFP

On average, people with dementia may live around 4–5 years after diagnosis. Life expectancy statistics typically aren’t broken down by the stages of the condition. Each person’s progression can differ. The progression of dementia can be influenced by many factors, including a person’s overall health and their type of dementia. It’s important to remember that life expectancy statistics are estimates based on previous studies, and your experience may be very different from others.

Read on to learn more about dementia life expectancy, the stages of the condition, and the outlook for a few common dementia subtypes.

Dementia life expectancy

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According to a 2020 research review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , the average life expectancy for people with dementia varies slightly between females and males:

  • 4.6–5.1 years after diagnosis for females
  • 4.1–4.3 years after diagnosis for males

However, as the researchers note, many factors can influence life expectancy, including the age at the time of diagnosis and the type of dementia.

Stages of dementia

Dementia can be broken down into three general stages Trusted Source World Health Organization Highly respected international organization Go to source .

Early stage dementia

Symptoms can be subtle in the earliest stage. A person may experience symptoms consistent with Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source short-term memory loss.

For example, they may lose track of time. Some people may become lost easily or forget to pay bills or keep appointments.

Middle stage dementia

As dementia progresses from the early stage, symptoms become more noticeable. A person may forget recent events or the names of people they know well. They may also begin to wander or have difficulty communicating.

People with dementia often need more help with everyday tasks and personal care as the condition worsens.

Late stage dementia

In the final stage of dementia, people may be mostly or entirely dependent. Caregivers may need to dress, bathe, and feed them.

Eventually, people with late stage dementia lose the ability to walk and talk. Some people with dementia die of dementia-related complications. Others may die due to another condition, such as heart disease or cancer.

Learn more about dementia stages and progression.

Alzheimer’s disease outlook

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. People with the condition typically live longer Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source than those with other forms of dementia. A 2020 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of more than 50,000 people in Sweden from more than 800 health centers estimated that the average life expectancy is:

  • 5.1 years for females
  • 5.2 years for males

However, some people with the condition may live much longer. Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source and progresses gradually over the course of months or years.

Learn more about the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Lewy body dementia outlook

Like Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia has a slow onset Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source and worsens gradually. However, the life expectancy for Lewy body dementia is typically shorter than for Alzheimer’s disease, with researchers estimating Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that:

  • females live an average of 4.3 years
  • males live an average of 3.4 years

Learn more about Lewy body dementia stages and progression.

Vascular dementia outlook

The average life expectancy for vascular dementia is also lower than it is for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers estimate that females live around 4.4 years Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , while males live around 3.9 years.

Because acute events like a stroke can cause vascular dementia, the symptoms may appear Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source  suddenly.

As with any form of dementia, these figures are estimates and may not reflect your experience. Talk with your care team about the outlook for your situation.

Learn more about vascular dementia outlook and life expectancy.

Improving your outlook

Though dementia can’t be stopped or reversed, it may be possible to relieve the symptoms or slow their progression.

Some medications, like donepezil (Aricept) and galantamine (Razadyne), may slow Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source cognitive decline for some types of dementia. Medications like antipsychotics or antidepressants may also help relieve behavioral symptoms like depression or irritability.

Your care team may also recommend a variety of lifestyle changes Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , including:

  • eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • getting regular physical activity
  • getting enough high quality sleep
  • reducing stress
  • engaging with other people socially

Summary

Though dementia results in a shorter lifespan, individual life expectancies and outlooks can be influenced by many factors, such as overall health and dementia subtype. Research statistics are general estimates and may not reflect your situation.

If you or a loved one has dementia, talk with a healthcare professional about the outlook for your specific situation.

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Medical Reviewer: Shilpa Amin, M.D., CAQ, FAAFP
Last Review Date: 2023 Dec 12
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