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Estimates Given for Survival After Onset of Dementia

Median survival is set at 4.5 years; sex, age at onset and disability are influencing factors

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The median survival time for people aged 65 years and older who develop incident dementia is 4.5 years from onset, according to a report published Jan. 10 in the Online First edition of BMJ.

Jing Xie, a research associate at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues followed 438 individuals (71 percent women) with incident dementia who were participants in the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Aging Study, a large population-based study that included two rural and three urban centers in England and Wales. Participants were at least 65 years old at enrollment. Median age at onset was 84 for women and 83 for men, while median age at death was 90 for women and 87 for men.

Significant factors that predicted mortality in the presence of dementia included sex, age of onset and disability. Estimated median survival time from onset of dementia to death was 4.1 years for men and 4.6 years for women. Survival among those with dementia who were between the ages of 65 and 69 years at onset was 10.7 years, compared to 3.8 years for those aged 90 and older.

An editorial accompanying the study concludes, "In planning care and support, doctors need to pay as much attention to the essential human worth of a person with dementia and their retained capacity for relationships, pleasure, communication, and coping as they do to deficits and dysfunction."

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