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People with Dementia survive on average four
and a half years after diagnosis
Newswise — 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
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
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
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
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