Predicting dementia life expectancy is not easy as the disease can progress for 10 years or more. Much will depend on individual cases but there are things one can do to slow the progress of the disease and adopt coping strategies in the early stages.
In the later stages of dementia people become increasingly frail. They are more susceptible to accidents and disease; pneumonia is a common cause of death. Weight loss can make it more difficult to keep warm and increase the risk of hyperthermia.
In the early stages it is a good idea to consider ways they can remain active and play a useful part in the daily routine. They could establish simple repetitive tasks such as preparing foodstuffs for meals, simple housework chores or caring for a pet.
However, much can be done to slow dementia decline; things can be put in place to help the sufferer. While they still posses powers of reasoning they can decide on the type and place of care they would like. They can assign Power of Attorney for the time when they are no longer able to make decisions.
One of the best ways of preventing dementia and slowing its progress is regular exercise such as walking briskly for 30 to 40 minutes 3 times a week. Recent research conducted by Professor Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, reveals the power of physical exercise in delaying age related mental decline.
Not only does exercise maintain mental health but even helps in the regeneration of cells in two areas of the brain associated with mental health. The prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus were shown to expand in those members of the trial (aged between 60 and 80) who did regular aerobic exercise.
While the group that did no exercise, other than stretching, suffered brain shrinkage in those areas. In mental tests, covering memory, language skills and attention, the exercise group also performed best thus increasing their dementia life expectancy.
When Rebecca was 17 she was told that her father had been diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 52. When friends encouraged him to go fell walking and running she would often accompany him. This helped him to retain a sense of independence, well being and normality; even as his mental health declines he is still running at the age of 67.
“We did loads of local 10k races together”, recalled Rebecca. “Interacting with people got more difficult as the disease progressed, whereas when we were running he could always make conversation about the things he could see”.
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