Written by Ryan on Wednesday the 7th of February 2018.
Sadly, there is not a definitive timeline to the progression of dementia, and it really does depend on the individual. However, there are factors, both controllable and un-controllable, that can have an impact on the pace that the disease progresses.
It is believed that people who start to develop symptoms of dementia before they are 65, termed as young onset dementia, will have a faster progression of the disease. However, this is currently merely a hypothesis and more research needs to be done. In fact, some experts believe that it is the fact that young onset dementia is much harder to diagnose, meaning that people are diagnosed later, thus making their progression seem faster.
Just as genes have can have an impact on a person’s likelihood of developing dementia, alongside other risk factors, there is evidence to suggest that an individual’s genetic makeup may also impact the speed at which dementia develops. Again, more research needs to be done to look into the real impact of genes on dementia, and how it progresses in an individual.
As with most things, a person’s health and existing conditions play a role in how dementia may progress. For example, people with diabetes or who experience repeated strokes are more likely to deteriorate faster than someone who is in otherwise good health. Similarly, overall health plays a part in not just the progression of dementia, but also a person’s likeliness of developing the condition. Quitting smoking, limiting drinking and regular exercise can all help slow down the progression of the disease in the brain, or at least help reduce the symptoms. If a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia it is important that regular, gentle exercise is encouraged, such as seated exercise.
Whilst it is natural to want to understand how quickly dementia will progress, it is also important to focus on the present. Ensure that a person living with dementia leads as healthy and active a life as possible, and that they are cared for and loved throughout their dementia journey.