What Are The Main Types Of Dementia
Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around 2 out of every 3 of cases in older people. Vascular dementia is another common form, while dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia are less common.
It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimers is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called mixed dementia.
The symptoms of dementia vary depending on the disease, or diseases, causing it. You can read more about the symptoms associated with different types of dementia on the Alzheimers Society website .
What Are The Symptoms
Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. The different types of dementia tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages.
A person with dementia will often have cognitive symptoms . They will often have problems with some of the following:
- Day-to-day memory difficulty recalling events that happened recently.
- Repetition repeating the same question or conversation frequently in a short space of time.
- Concentrating, planning or organising difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks .
- Language difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something.
- Visuospatial skills – problems judging distances and seeing objects in three dimensions.
- Orientation – losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.
Some people have other symptoms including movement problems, hallucinations or behaviour changes.
How Do People Die From Alzheimer’s After Gene Wilder’s Death How Progressive Disease Affects The Human Brain
Gene Wilders family announced he passed away of complications from Alzheimers disease at the age 83 in his home in Connecticut on Monday. The iconic actor and comedian suffered privately from the progressive brain disorder for three years before succumbing to the diseases complications. More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimers disease today, but how does this common yet incurable type of dementia kill a person?
Alzheimers disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, which causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior that slowly worsen overtime. According to the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimers is a complex and difficult disease. In the late stages of the condition, patients sufferer from loss of appetite, and lose the ability to to communicate verbally, move without assistance, and recognize family members and friends. However death typically comes as a result from aspiration, pneumonia, infection, or coronary arrest.
Gene Wilder passed away after succumbing to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.Photo courtesy of Reuters/ Lucas Jackson
In the end, family members must decide between the sufferers quality of life versus quantity. With an incurable disease like Alzheimers, choosing to make them as comfortable as possible is preferred, which is why patients are often placed into nursing homes and hospice surrounded by loved ones until their bodies can no longer sustain life on their own.
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Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
What Causes Alzheimers Disease
In recent years, scientists have made tremendous progress in better understanding Alzheimers and the momentum continues to grow. Still, scientists dont yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease in most people. In people with early-onset Alzheimers, a genetic mutation may be the cause. Late-onset Alzheimers arises from a complex series of brain changes that may occur over decades. The causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The importance of any one of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimers may differ from person to person.
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What Are The Warning Signs That Life Is Nearing An End
When an elderly person with dementia is almost bearing their end, it can be very traumatic especially for the loved ones. It is important to have an idea of what signs one needs to expect when the end comes as this can give you some sort of comfort.
When you think of a condition such as Alzheimers disease, a person can live for over 10 years with it. It is possible to make the person happy over those years. Since we are not immortals, at some point life does come to an end when you have dementia and it is something that one needs to be prepared for especially if they are caregivers.
Handling the final stage of dementia is much easier, especially when you are aware of the things that you should expect. It is important to give the person the kind of care that will award him or her dignified and peaceful death.
Usually, when a person is about to reach the end, the dementia symptoms usually get worse and this can be quite upsetting. Some of the things that you may notice include:
- Limited mobility so they may have to be bed bound
- Limited speech or no speech at all
- Double incontinence
- Difficulties swallowing and eating
It is important to note that the above symptoms do not really mean that the person will just die. There are people who can have such symptoms for quite some time. You should also remember that about two-thirds of dementia patients succumb to other ailments such as pneumonia.
Some of the other signs that can indicate that death is indeed close include:
How Can I Support Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life
Knowing the person will make it easier to provide person-centred care that is focused on what they need and want. It can help to know about their likes, dislikes and their wishes for how they want to be cared for. If the person isnt able to tell you about themselves, speak to their family, friends or other people who know them well.
Its a good idea to find out if the person has a copy of This is me , a document that records information about themselves. If you cant speak to the person, ask those close to them if they have a copy. They may have these details recorded in their care plan.
There are many ways to support someone with dementia at the end of life.
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Managing Alzheimer’s Disease Behavior
Common behavioral symptoms of Alzheimers include sleeplessness, wandering, agitation, anxiety, and aggression. Scientists are learning why these symptoms occur and are studying new treatments drug and nondrug to manage them. Research has shown that treating behavioral symptoms can make people with Alzheimers more comfortable and makes things easier for caregivers.
The Basics Of Alzheimers Disease
Scientists are conducting studies to learn more about plaques, tangles, and other biological features of Alzheimers disease. Advances in brain imaging techniques allow researchers to see the development and spread of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins in the living brain, as well as changes in brain structure and function. Scientists are also exploring the very earliest steps in the disease process by studying changes in the brain and body fluids that can be detected years before Alzheimers symptoms appear. Findings from these studies will help in understanding the causes of Alzheimers and make diagnosis easier.
One of the great mysteries of Alzheimers disease is why it largely affects older adults. Research on normal brain aging is exploring this question. For example, scientists are learning how age-related changes in the brain may harm neurons and affect other types of brain cells to contribute to Alzheimers damage. These age-related changes include atrophy of certain parts of the brain, inflammation, blood vessel damage, production of unstable molecules called free radicals, and mitochondrial dysfunction .
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Can You Die From Alzheimers
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Alzheimers is generally considered a chronic illness that progresses over time. It is also a fatal disease. Each person experiences the course of the disease differently, and the reasons for death vary, but the outcome is the same.1
The Alzheimers Association describes the disease as a progressive brain disorder that causes dementia, leading to the loss of memory, cognition, and the ability to care for oneself. The brain is the bodys control center, and when it can no longer function correctly it can affect all aspects of daily life including the ability to speak, walk, swallow, and breathe.2
Common Complications Of Alzheimers Disease That Cause Death
A lack of self-awareness and self-care, prolonged confinement to a bed, feeding failure, inability to receive proper nutrition and dehydration are all factors in the development of other life-threatening health conditions in dementia patients. While brain damage associated with AD is the driving force behind the patients cognitive decline and incapacitation, these secondary illnesses and conditions are ultimately responsible for causing the patients physical decline and death.
Complications of Alzheimers disease are commonly cited as such on death certificates. Because of this, deaths with a primary cause of AD and related dementias are seriously underreported. This is especially true since dementia can go unnoticed as it progresses slowly over the course of many years. Furthermore, a significant number of patients never receive an official neurological diagnosis while alive or after they have died.
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Why Do Dementia Patients Stop Talking
There are many signs that can tell you death is near for a dementia payment. Even though you may be prepared for the end, it is never easy. The ten signs that death is near include:
Loss Of Neuronal Connections And Cell Death
In Alzheimers disease, as neurons are injured and die throughout the brain, connections between networks of neurons may break down, and many brain regions begin to shrink. By the final stages of Alzheimers, this processcalled brain atrophyis widespread, causing significant loss of brain volume.
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.
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How Does A Person Die From Dementia
Can dementia kill? Alzheimer’s disease doesnt just make you forgetful. Its a serious, progressive condition which is, eventually, terminal. Alzheimers and other forms of dementia have now overtaken heart disease to become the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
The brain is responsible for more than thought, memory and understanding. It controls our bodily systems including breathing, circulation and digestion. Alzheimers kills cells in the brain. This damage initially leads to problems remembering things and communicating effectively. However, with time the brain damage affects the whole body, leading to death. This can be from a number of causes:
Vascular Contributions To Alzheimers Disease
People with dementia seldom have only Alzheimers-related changes in their brains. Any number of vascular issuesproblems that affect blood vessels, such as beta-amyloid deposits in brain arteries, atherosclerosis , and mini-strokesmay also be at play.
Vascular problems may lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain, as well as a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, which usually protects the brain from harmful agents while allowing in glucose and other necessary factors. In a person with Alzheimers, a faulty blood-brain barrier prevents glucose from reaching the brain and prevents the clearing away of toxic beta-amyloid and tau proteins. This results in inflammation, which adds to vascular problems in the brain. Because it appears that Alzheimers is both a cause and consequence of vascular problems in the brain, researchers are seeking interventions to disrupt this complicated and destructive cycle.
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Stage : Very Severe Decline
In the final stage of Alzheimers, most people lose the ability to communicate or respond to their environment. They need assistance with all aspects of life including eating and may lose their ability to swallow. Autonomic nervous system functions that we dont think about like heart rate, breathing, digestion, and sleep cycles can be severely affected.3
What Is The Average Life Expectancy
Life expectancy varies for each person with AD. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is eight to 10 years. In some cases, however, it can be as short as three years or as long as 20 years.
AD can go undiagnosed for several years, too. In fact, the average length of time between when symptoms begin and when an AD diagnosis is made is 2.8 years.
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Alzheimers Disease Mortality Increased Compared With Selected Major Causes Of Death
Figure 1. Percent change in age-adjusted death rates for selected causes of death: United States, 2000 and 2010
Compared with other selected causes, Alzheimers disease has been on the rise since the last decade. For 2000 and 2010, the age-adjusted death rate for Alzheimers disease increased by 39 percent, whereas death rates for other major causes of death decreased . The largest decreases in death rates among selected major causes of death were observed for Stroke , Heart disease , and Cancer .
Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment . With MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimers, but not all of them do so. Some may even revert to normal cognition.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. For many, decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may signal the very early stages of the disease. Researchers are studying biomarkers to detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and in cognitively normal people who may be at greater risk for Alzheimers. More research is needed before these techniques can be used broadly and routinely to diagnose Alzheimers in a health care providers office.
Alzheimers Disease And Other Dementias Are The Leading Cause Of Death In The Uk
Mortality rates for Alzheimers disease and other dementias have increased over the last decade. In contrast, the other top four leading causes of death in 2017 ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung cancer have all seen falling mortality rates in the last 15 years.
Page last reviewed: 07/07/2021
Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK. The graph below shows the increase in the proportion of deaths due to Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia over the last several years, compared to several other leading causes of death.
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The blisters didnt heal, and then an old bruise on her leg opened up and started bleeding and crusting over. It was due to poor blood circulation, made worse by the fact that she was having trouble eating and her protein intake was too low, exacerbating the fluid build-up in the blisters. And then she stopped being able to swallow her medicine no antibiotics to help heal the wounds on her heels and legs, no paracetamol to ease the discomfort, not even a relaxant to help her sleep at night.
I didnt know it then, but we finally encountered the real killer with Alzheimersforgetting how to swallow.
In late March I found her still sitting at the dining table two hours after the meal, staring at her bowl of fruit. The nurses said she had become a slow eater. I realized at that point that the suddenness of my mothers spiral had even surprised the staff. They didnt realize the blisters were from bedsores, thinking her shoes were too tight they didnt help her to eat, thinking she was taking her time. It was the disease, slowly shriveling the part of her brain that takes care of the physical processes and basic functions.
One day she just stopped eating and drinking completely. Not only does Alzheimers make you forget how to swallow, but it also attacks the part of the brain that sends thirst and hunger pangs. And thats when I understood what would kill hershe would slowly wither away, dry up, unable and unwilling to eat or drink.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Doctors use several methods and tools to help determine whether a person who is having memory problems has Alzheimers disease.
To diagnose Alzheimers, doctors may:
- Ask the person and a family member or friend questions about overall health, use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and changes in behavior and personality.
- Conduct tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language.
- Carry out standard medical tests, such as blood and urine tests, to identify other possible causes of the problem.
- Perform brain scans, such as computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , or positron emission tomography , to support an Alzheimers diagnosis or to rule out other possible causes for symptoms.
These tests may be repeated to give doctors information about how the persons memory and other cognitive functions are changing over time.
People with memory and thinking concerns should talk to their doctor to find out whether their symptoms are due to Alzheimers or another cause, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinsons disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medication, an infection, or another type of dementia. Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible.
In addition, an early diagnosis provides people with more opportunities to participate in clinical trials or other research studies testing possible new treatments for Alzheimers.
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