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What is the life span of a person with Primary Progressive Aphasia

By July 19, 2010 - 11:34am
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My mother was diagnosed with PPA about 4 years ago and now has much difficulty in speech. Also will sometimes retreve something else that she was asked to get and is incapeable to do almost everything, but remembers past and seems to understand what you are saying. Is it going to get worse to the point where she wont know us like Alzheimers and eventuly kill her. Thankyou Tim

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EmpowHER Guest

My husband was diagnosed 11 years ago, when he was 53 years old. Doctors really do not know about the length of the disease. He really lost his speech very quickly, But 4 years ago the worse problems arraised: agressive behavior, with medication the problem passed. You have to be strong and stand this stage, it will pass. Since 2 years ago he has become totally incapable of doing anything by himself, as eating or drinking, also he started to use diapers. Now he is loosing totally his capability of walking. What I have been told is that once the patient is totally postrated you have one year. He still lives at home and recognizes me and understand some basic things, they understand more things that we imagine.
Hope this helps you, try to enjoy your love one the most that you can.
Good luck

May 16, 2016 - 10:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

My uncle was diagnosed with PPA a few years ago. He has lost his ability to speak. He is my favorite uncle; my mother's younger brother. He is 82 now and his condition makes me so sad.

March 26, 2016 - 6:35pm
EmpowHER Guest

A 53 year old male friend was just diagnosed with PPA in June and passes away barely 6 months later.
It was such a shock, especially reading everything I did about how people can live with this for many years.
How often are cases this severe?

December 21, 2015 - 2:48pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon
Cases are not usually that severe but PPA is more common in men and often starts in their 50s so your friend was pretty typical in that way. The average life span is about the mid to late 60s.

Your friend may have had a very advanced case or had other underlying medical issues that you may not know about.

I'm sorry for your loss. PPA is a curse of a disease.

December 21, 2015 - 3:06pm
EmpowHER Guest

My father is 72 and has declined immensely in the last two years from PPA. For years the doctors thought he had Parkinsons disease and have been treating him for that. But we have come to find that he In fact has PPA. When he talks he whispers but he thinks he is speaking normally. The biggest problem is stability. He can barely walk and navigate. He falls multiple times a day. My mother who is 62 is still working full time and taking care of my father is also a full time job. I am the oldest of their children and i have two younger sisters. We no longer live at home and we all have families of our own. So we all take turns caring for him because he can no longer be left alone. It is true he acts like a child and it is so sad watching your father deteriorate right in front of your eyes. The reason I am writing this is if there are any programs we as a family could go to or look up on the Internet to help him with this horrible disease. It is new to us and we want to make the last years of his life the best we can. Thank you for reading and taking the time to answer me if anyone can. Thank you.

July 14, 2015 - 2:57pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon
Thanks for contacting us and I'm sorry about your father. It is indeed a very hard thing to see a loved one turn into someone else due to illness.

There are support groups out there for your family. You can start here:

August 19, 2015 - 3:29pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Please look into the Family Caregiver Support Program, usually offered through your local Area Agency on Aging.

August 19, 2015 - 10:25am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

I'm really sorry to read about your Dad. It's awful to see someone so vibrant and healthy change so drastically.

Try here for a support group for caregivers:



July 15, 2015 - 6:54am

Yes that helped answer my question. My mother is 77 and she is on Ran Ramopril 5 mg and Ran Risperidone 0.25mg . Is there any other meds that could help her. Thanks Tim

July 19, 2010 - 12:56pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Tim

Thanks for you question and welcome!

I'm sorry to hear of your Mom's diagnosis. Thanks for looking out for her this way. How old is she?

One of our experts, social worker Darby Morhardt, states that "Primary progressive aphasia is where language, word-finding, naming, naming of objects, those are the first symptoms. Again, memory is retained and people are able to function quite normally in other aspects of their daily life. They are just having a lot of difficulty with language. "

You can read or watch the rest of her interview here: http://www.empowher.com/aphasia/content/what-primary-progressive-aphasia-darby-morhardt-msw-video

However, she does note that there is a correlation between your mother's condition and that of dementia, for a couple of reasons.
She says "...And the reason I think primary progressive aphasia is put under frontotemporal dementia is that PPA is in the, that the temporal lobe of the brain is where our language center is, and as PPA progresses, it often progresses to the frontal lobe of the brain which regulates our executive function, our ability to organize our lives, our personality, our judgment, etc."

This makes sense to why we view PPA as a form as dementia, although it's not Alzheimer's, in the strict definition of the condition.

As far as how long she may have to live, she could have 2 years or 22 years - it all depends on her general health, her care and support network, the kind of treatment she is getting and various other factors. You cannot 'die' from this, per se, but it can lead up to losing all form of speech and PPA can lead to other forms of dementia that makes a person needing full care in all aspects of their lives and can contribute to the end of life.

With regard to treatment - drugs are not generally helpful for this condition. Drugs used for Alzheimer patients were tries but were generally unsuccessful. Speech therapy and help with language are more effective.

Tim, can you tell us what kind of treatment your mother is undergoing at the moment, if any? Has the information I've given above helped you?

July 19, 2010 - 12:20pm
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