Progression of Alzheimers and Dementia

Progression of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Progression of Alzheimer’s and Dementia is unique for every person who develops it. It depends on factors that are unique to the person. Key factors which can affect prognosis include the age the person was when symptoms first commenced or any other illnesses the person has.

The progression of Alzheimer’s and Dementia results in the life expectancy of 8-10 years from first symptom onset. We cannot be exact as to how individuals dementia will progress, what symptoms they will get, or how long they may live with their condition. The reason for this is that each person’s experience with Dementia is unique to them.

What we can say is as symptoms of dementia progress, it becomes harder for the person to manage their daily activities of living.

These difficulties can make people feel frustrated and angry, or they can cause them to completely withdraw. Depending on individual circumstances, use the following information as a ‘general guide’.

As a carer, if you know what to look for, you can prepare for whats ahead and learn strategies to help cope with living with Dementia.


Middle Stage Alzheimer’s

Early-stage Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory loss becomes more pronounced as things progress in middle stage. People can struggle to follow conversations or even the plot of their once favourite TV shows.

Other common signs of this stage include:

  • Getting lost in once well-known places
  • Getting confused around bathing or dressing
  • Needing reminders for eating/drinking, medications,
  • Confusion with time and sleeping
  • Restlessness and agitation

These symptoms are upsetting both for the person and their families. It is essential to understand that the person indeed doesn’t intend their behaviours to upset others around them.

It is important to be safety aware at this stage and to have proper supports in place for a 24hr care situation. The right support system in place means staying at home can be extended until things progress to nursing care.


Late Stage Dementia Symptoms

Sadly, this stage is very upsetting for a family to witness as their loved one can become so frail they become entirely dependent. People can become confined to a bed or need a wheelchair. People experiencing late-stage Dementia typically suffer from additional problems:

  • Complete memory loss – including knowing family members
  • Difficulties with eating/drinking
  • Communication/Gradual speech loss
  • Incontinence

Thankfully, family members will sometimes see flashes of their loved one, and this gives them great comfort. They can see their loved one respond to kindness and affection, even if normal communication is gone.


Progression of Vascular Dementia

Vascular Dementia results from a stroke or series of small strokes, therefore this progresses more in a ‘stepped’ way as opposed to staged gradual progression. Following a stroke, symptoms may appear to suddenly worsen and then level for a period until the next stroke occurs when symptoms can worsen again. People with vascular Dementia can be more prone to depression as they can retain personality & emotional awareness until the late stage of the condition. Life expectancy for this condition is usually 5yrs, and the end is typically connected to stroke or heart attack.


Caring for a loved one with Dementia

It is so important for carers to link in with support services and not to try ‘go it alone’. There are many resources available online and also agencies you can talk to for practical advice or assistance with respite.

If you feel you need professional advice we are happy to discuss your situation with no obligation for service to point you in the right direction.



Related Resources


         Tips for Dealing With Alzheimer's Disease And Repetition At Home

Alzheimers Association - First steps after diagnosis 

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