In many countries, the number of people with dementia is rising; as of now, it exceeds 50 million and is anticipated to triple by the year 2050. People living with dementia have a reduced life expectancy; however, there is considerable inter-individual variation according to studies. With millions of people worldwide affected by dementia, understanding the factors that influence life expectancy is crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Before discussing life expectancy, it is important to identify the different types of dementia that people have.

Types of dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease – Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases. It is characterised by memory loss, confusion, and changes in behaviour and personality. The progression is typically slow but steady, with life expectancy ranging from 8 to 10 years after diagnosis, although some individuals may live longer.

Vascular Dementia – Vascular dementia is the second most common type, resulting from conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain, such as strokes. Symptoms can vary widely depending on the brain areas affected but often include impaired judgment, difficulties with planning, and memory loss. The progression can be stepwise, with sudden changes following strokes or mini-strokes. Life expectancy varies but is generally shorter than that of Alzheimer’s disease, often 5 years after diagnosis.

Lewy Body Dementia – Lewy body dementia involves abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies in the brain. Key symptoms include visual hallucinations, movement disorders similar to Parkinson’s, and cognitive fluctuations. The progression can be more rapid than Alzheimer’s, with life expectancy typically around 6 to 8 years after diagnosis.

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) –  FTD is less common and primarily affects younger individuals, typically between the ages of 45 and 65. Symptoms include significant changes in personality and behaviour, language difficulties, and impaired executive function. FTD progresses faster than Alzheimer’s, with life expectancy ranging from 6 to 8 years after symptoms begin.

Factors influencing life expectancy

Age at diagnosis – Younger individuals diagnosed with dementia often have a longer life expectancy compared to those diagnosed at an older age. However, younger individuals with early-onset dementia may face more aggressive disease progression.

Overall health and comorbidities – The presence of other health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or chronic respiratory illnesses, can significantly affect life expectancy. Managing these conditions effectively can help improve outcomes for dementia patients.

Type and severity of dementia – The specific type of dementia plays a crucial role in determining life expectancy. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease typically progresses more slowly than Lewy body dementia or frontotemporal dementia. The severity of symptoms at the time of diagnosis also influences prognosis. Advanced symptoms generally correlate with a shorter life expectancy.

Genetic factors – Certain genetic mutations and familial histories of dementia can impact both the onset and progression of the disease. For example, mutations in the APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2 genes are linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Lifestyle and environmental factors – Lifestyle choices such as diet, physical activity, and social engagement can influence the progression of dementia. A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and social interactions can help slow cognitive decline. Environmental factors, including access to quality healthcare and a supportive living environment, also play a role in managing symptoms and potentially extending life expectancy.

Quality of care and support systems – Access to comprehensive healthcare services and support systems is crucial for managing dementia effectively. This includes regular medical check-ups, medications to manage symptoms, and support from caregivers and healthcare professionals. Engaging in cognitive therapies, occupational therapy, and other supportive interventions can improve the quality of life and potentially slow disease progression.

Advancements in medical research – Ongoing research and advancements in medical science hold promise for better understanding and treating dementia. New treatments and therapies are continually being developed, offering hope for improved management and extended life expectancy in the future.

The importance of social support in increasing life expectancy

Numerous studies have shown that support from the social environment can significantly influence life expectancy in people with dementia beyond clinical factors. Emotional support, in particular, plays a crucial role in life expectancy. Greater support from the social environment reduces the risk of mortality. This highlights the importance of a strong support network for individuals with dementia, which includes family, friends, and caregivers who can provide emotional, social, and practical assistance.

Can cognitive stimulation form part of social support?

Cognitive stimulation is a critical component of dementia care, as it can help slow cognitive decline and improve the quality of life for patients. At Livewell, we understand the importance of engaging our residents in cognitively stimulating activities. Our cognitively stimulating activities program is designed to keep residents mentally active, encouraging social interaction, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Activities may include puzzles, memory games, arts and crafts, music therapy, and other engaging tasks tailored to the individual’s interests and abilities.

Through these activities, our residents are not only able to maintain their cognitive functions for longer periods but also experience improved mood and reduced anxiety. Cognitive stimulation helps build connections between neurons, which can compensate for the areas of the brain affected by dementia. This can lead to better cognitive performance and a more fulfilling life.

At Livewell, we are not just a dementia care facility where loved ones with dementia come to spend their final years; we are dedicated to significantly improving their lives. Our approach focuses on creating a positive, engaging, and supportive environment that enhances the well-being of our residents. By providing personalised dementia care and a variety of stimulating activities, we help our residents live more active, joyful, and meaningful lives.


Dementia is a complex and multifaceted condition, and its impact on life expectancy is influenced by various factors, including the type of dementia, age at diagnosis, overall health, genetic predispositions, lifestyle choices, and the quality of care received. Social support and cognitive stimulation play vital roles in improving the life expectancy and quality of life for individuals with dementia. At Livewell, we emphasise compassionate, personalised care that addresses both the emotional and physical needs of our residents. By fostering a supportive and engaging environment, we aim to reduce distress and enhance the well-being of those we care for, ensuring that they live their lives to the fullest.