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Alzheimer`s Disease/stage 6 and 7 life expectancy

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Question
My 77 year old father was in stage 1 for about 4 years.  As of last April, he was still working and driving with just mild memory impairment. One day at a family dinner, he simply turned to me and said "I have no idea who any of you are or where I am."  Needless to say, we were not prepared for that. Within 8 months he has rapidly progressed to stage 6.  He can no longer stand up or walk by himself, when he is standing he falls, he has stopped eating and drinking, sleeps most of the day and is no longer in full control of his bodily functions. He has heart disease and had a quadruple bypass 20 years ago. His neurologist and PCP have both signed off on hospice paperwork. My question - in your opinion is this too fast for full disease progression?  In all reality, could he linger in this stage for years?

Answer
Hello Sheri:
I'm very sorry to hear of the accelerated decline in your father.  I'm sure it's extremely difficult for the entire family to process and to handle.
I'm glad to hear that hospice is involved at this point, and the fact that the doctors have agreed tells me they don't believe he will linger on past about 6 months from this stage.  They are the ones in the best position to answer your question--as well as the hospice workers.  I encourage you to communicate with them frequently about this.  
Many studies indicate that when the dementia progresses very rapidly, as his has, that they do not tend to linger on for many years.  The sudden decline may have come from a stroke in his brain (in addition to the Alzheimer's if he has that diagnosis), so he could continue to have strokes which will hasten the process of deterioration.  The fact that he has serious heart disease tells me this is a good possibility.  
Please continue to do things to and for him that you know he enjoys--his favorite music, maybe massages to his shoulders or feet, exposure to small children or animals, or looking at pictures from his past that he may still recognize.  I wish you well Sheri in your quest to walk this path with your father in the best way possible.  Cindy

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Cindy Keith, RN, BS, Certified Dementia Practitioner

Expertise

As a nurse and dementia consultant, I can answer most questions on all types of dementia. If I cannot answer your question, I will attempt to find someone who can. My passion is to help caregivers of people with dementia, which in turn helps all those wonderful elders with dementia live better lives. When caregivers are better educated, they are able to better care for themselves and their loved ones, so education is key to decreased stress levels and healthier, happier families.

Experience

I have worked as a nurse in various disciplines of nursing for over 20 years, most of which was with the elderly. I was a health care coordinator in a dementia dedicated assisted living facility for 4 years before I started my own business (M.I.N.D. in Memory Care) as a dementia consultant six years ago. As a dementia consultant, I help families nationwide through phone conference calls as they struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia.

Organizations
Alzheimer's Foundation of America Geriatric Interest Network Sigma Theta Tau International

Publications
Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" which is a collection of stories about people with dementia I have known, loved and worked with. Every story has a lesson to teach and this book gently teaches family caregivers lessons about how to better care for their loved one, as well as themselves during their caregiving journey. Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training" Created "Bringing Nurturing To Memory Care" staff dementia training video Created Ebook: "Hair Stylist's Helpful Tips For Working With People With Alzheimer's & Other Dementias"

Education/Credentials
Registered Nurse with Bachelor's degree in Nursing; Certified Dementia Practitioner; Author of 2 books and an ebook

Awards and Honors
Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing

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