Stage : Mild Dementia
The mild dementia stage is the point at which doctors typically diagnose Alzheimers disease. If people use a three-stage description of Alzheimers disease, this will be the early stage.
Problems with memory and thinking may become more noticeable to friends and family and also begin to affect daily life.
Symptoms of mild dementia due to Alzheimers disease include:
- having difficulty remembering newly learned information
- asking the same question repeatedly
- having trouble solving problems and completing tasks
- exhibiting reduced motivation to complete tasks
- experiencing a lapse in judgment
- becoming withdrawn or uncharacteristically irritable or angry
- having difficulty finding the correct words to describe an object or idea
- getting lost or misplacing items
How Does Alzheimer’s Lead To Death
Alzheimers disease is a degenerative brain disorder in which brain cells destruct. The condition results in a decline in memory, behavior, and mental capabilities.
It is not Alzheimer’s disease that kills a person. Death typically results from an inability to carry out routine activities, such as eating, taking care while walking, visiting the bathroom and toilet. This inability to take care of oneself makes the affected person fall prey to problems, such as malnutrition, dehydration, falls, and infections , which lead to death.
Pneumonia is a common cause of death in people with Alzheimers disease. Problems while swallowing make ingested food particles enter the respiratory tract and the lungs instead of the esophagus. This ingested food causes pneumonia in the lungs.
What Are Some Complications Of Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is an irreversible form of dementia. The rate of progression differs between people: some people have it only in the last 5 years of their life, while others may have it for as long as 20 years. Alzheimers disease eventually leads to complete dependence and increasing frailty. This means a secondary illness, such as pneumonia, may eventually cause death.
Other complications of Alzheimers disease may include:
- an inability to complete daily tasks such as planning meals and managing money
- a tendency to wander from home
- personality changes such as anxiety, depression and irritability that make relationships more difficult
- delusions and hallucinations in advanced stages of the disease
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What Are The Symptoms Of The Final Stages Of Alzheimers
The final stages of Alzheimers impair the affected person significantly, making them unable to perform daily functions independently.
The signs and symptoms of the final stages of Alzheimers include:
- Being unable to walk around
- Difficulty speaking or expressing through words
- Needing assistance with routine activities, such as eating
Stage : Very Severe Decline
Many basic abilities in a person with Alzheimer’s, such as eating, walking, and sitting up, fade during this period. You can stay involved by feeding your loved one with soft, easy-to-swallow food, helping them use a spoon, and making sure they drink. This is important, as many people at this stage can no longer tell when they’re thirsty.
In this stage, people with Alzheimer’s disease need a lot of help from caregivers. Many families find that, as much as they may want to, they can no longer take care of their loved one at home. If thatâs you, look into facilities such as nursing homes that provide professional care day and night.
When someone nears the end of their life, hospice may be a good option. That doesn’t necessarily mean moving them to another location. Hospice care can happen anywhere. Itâs a team approach that focuses on comfort, pain management and other medical needs, emotional concerns, and spiritual support for the person and their family.
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What Is The Death Rate For Alzheimers
It is difficult to know how many deaths are caused by complications of Alzheimers disease because of the way causes of death are reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 84,767 people died from Alzheimers disease in 2013. That number is probably low.
The CDC considers a person to have died from Alzheimers if the death certificate lists Alzheimers as an underlying cause of death. However, death certificates often list the primary cause of death for a person with Alzheimers as pneumonia, heart failure or infection.
According to the Alzheimers Association, a recent study suggested that the number of deaths from complications of Alzheimer’s disease may be five to six times higher than what the CDC reports. Also, older patients with Alzheimers disease often have other medical conditions coronary artery disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, stroke and cancer that could cause death if the person was not suffering from Alzheimers.
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Being Patient: Dr Sampson Do Researchers Know How Much Someone Whos Dying From Alzheimers Can Understand When Loved Ones Speak To Them
Dr. Liz Sampson: We know very little about where people are. You can get very hung up thinking about medical things, but at a very basic level, even someone with advanced dementia is aware of the atmosphere around them, so if people are distressed around them, the person will pick up on that. Its about thinking holistically, so they may preserve certain senses.
Their sense of smell may be very well preserved, which is why using aromatherapydespite that theres no real evidence that it helps dementia patientsis comforting. Its helpful being surrounded by nice smells or music, which reach the inner parts of our brain and trigger basic emotional responses in us. Theres good reason to think that the sound of a familiar voice or holding someones hand is going to register with them on some level. For caregivers, it will also help them with their grief.
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Alzheimer’s On A Molecular Level
Alzheimers causes widespread damage in the cerebral cortex compared to other brain diseases.
High levels of misfolded Abeta in spinal fluid spread the disease extracellularly from cell to cell.
Misfolded Tau causes direct brain damage, leading to cognitive and motor decline. Specifically,
- Tau prions appear prominently in the brain regions where maximum cell loss occurs, causing the brain to shrink in severe cases.
- Tau tangles alone cause progressive cognitive and motor damage to the brain in non-Alzheimers dementia.
- Plaques, alone, frequently appear in elderly individuals without signs of dementia or cognitive decline.
Can You Die From Dementia And How Does It Kill You
Many people worry about developing dementia one day. However, experts say there are things you can do to by more than 30 percent. In this article, we’ll cover some of the easy lifestyle changes you can make to improve your odds of staying healthy.
If you have dementia, you may be wondering what it might mean for your long-term health. Know that it’s not the type of disorder that can shorten your life expectancy, but it may make you more susceptible to contracting certain illnesses. We’ll talk about that in more detail later on, and we’ll share some suggestions to ease your fears and worries.
What Will Cause Death?
For many, dementia is unfathomable. It’s scary to think about losing memories and the ability to function normally. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, know someone who has, or are just curious about the subject, you may wonder how a person with dementia dies.
It’s possible that you could die from complications of dementia, but you’re unlikely to die from the disease itself. For example, dementia could damage your brain over time to the point that you lose the ability to breathe and therefore die. However, for many patients, this is not the case.
Even though there are around 50 million people worldwide who have dementia, you’re not destined to get it. There are billions of people who don’t have it and who will never get it.
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Stage : Moderate Decline
During this period, the problems in thinking and reasoning that you noticed in stage 3 get more obvious, and new issues appear. Your friend or family member might:
- Forget details about themselves
- Have trouble putting the right date and amount on a check
- Forget what month or season it is
- Have trouble cooking meals or even ordering from a menu
- Struggle to use the telephone
- Not understand what is said to them
- Struggle to do tasks with multiple steps like cleaning the house.
You can help with everyday chores and their safety. Make sure they aren’t driving anymore, and that no one tries to take advantage of them financially.
Being Patient: You Write That When Your Mom Was Administered Morphine You Didnt Realize That Was The End Can You Tell Us About That
Jasja De Smedt Kotterman: Right, and I dont know why it didnt click with me. I somehow thought that with morphine, you would still be conscious, but not in pain. Actually, its a question I would love to ask Liz as well, because I had heard of people being on morphine to help them with pain, but that they were still able to talk a little bit, so what really surprised me was that she just never regained consciousness after that.
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How Does Dementia Kill You The Disease Has Been Reported As One Of The Leading Causes Of Death In England And Wales Over The Last Couple Of Years But According To An Expert While Dementia Essentially Shuts Down The Brain The Actual Death Of A Person May Be Caused By Another Condition
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Dementia is a term used to described a group of diseases and symptoms that affect the brain.
There are different types – the four most common are Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal dementia.
The different dementia types can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
But can and how does dementia kill you? Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient explained dementia is a terminal illness that shuts down the brain.
He said: The actual death of a person with dementia may be caused by another condition.
People suffering with dementia are likely to be frail toward the end and find it harder to fight off infections and other physical problems due to the progress of dementia.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Unfortunately, there is no single test that can confirm Alzheimers disease. A diagnosis comes after careful assessment. This may involve:
- a detailed medical history
- urine and blood tests
- medical imaging, such as an MRI scan to assess shrinking of the brain
After eliminating other possible causes of symptoms , a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimers can be made.
An early diagnosis allows your doctor to work out if there is another cause of your symptoms that may be treatable. If a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease is most likely, you can start to discuss medical treatment and further assistance to help slow the degenerative process.
How Does Alzheimers Kill
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain, resulting in memory loss, cognitive decline, and personality changes. Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia . People with Alzheimer’s disease first develop memory loss. As the disease progresses, memory loss worsens and problems with thinking, decision making, reasoning, language, or perception develop.
In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals lose their ability to communicate or respond to the environment and require constant care. The brain damage leads to the failure of the bodys organs and functions, including the lungs, heart, and digestion, which can eventually kill the individual. Alzheimer’s is a disease with no cure, but there are ways to stop or slow its progression with medications and other therapies. These can treat symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Alzheimers disease can be either of the following:
- Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of Alzheimer’s and occurs after 65 years of age. The affected person does not have any history of the disease in their family members.
- Familial Alzheimers disease is a rare genetic condition. A person with inherited mutated genes may develop Alzheimer’s disease when they are of age 40-50 years .
Growing Numbers Of People With Alzheimers In The Us
About 6.2 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimers disease. Of the total U.S. population, more than 1 in 9 people age 65 and older has Alzheimers. The percentage of people with Alzheimers increases with age: 5.3% of people ages 65 to 74, 13.8% of people ages 75 to 84, and 34.6% of people 85 and older.
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Avoid Arguing About Whether They Are Already Home’
For a person with dementia, the term ‘home’ may describe something more than the place they currently live. Often when a person with dementia asks to go home it refers to the sense of home rather than home itself.
Home may represent memories of a time or place that was comfortable and secure and where they felt relaxed and happier. It could also be an indefinable place that may not physically exist.
Its best not to disagree with the person or try to reason with them about wanting to go home.
What Are Some Complications
At some point, virtually all Alzheimerâs patients will have problems eating. They may stop eating entirely. This straightforwardly leads to malnutrition, weakness, weight loss, and starvation.
As mentioned, above, many Alzheimerâs-afflicted individuals lose the ability to walk. This general immobility leaves the person variously bedridden or wheelchair bound. Normal-functioning people may be at greater risk for health problems when they lead a sedentary lifestyle. But to be more or less completely stationary is much worse. Being motionless in this way can lead to bed sores and blot clots .
In advanced stages, the brain degenerates to the point where it is unable to properly regulate the body. This irregularity can precipitate all sorts of problems, including weakened immunity.
âAspirationâ occurs when a person accidentally inhales bits of food or drops of water. These then end up in the lungs. Without the ability to expel these foreign materials by coughing or sneezing, the individual is at great risk for infections and pneumonia.
Moreover, immune-compromised persons are more susceptible to infections and can develop serious conditions like sepsis.
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Being Patient: Dr Sampson Should You Have That Discussion Right After A Diagnosis
Dr. Liz Sampson: Yes, if you can do it in a sensitive way. The problem is that lots of people who have dementiaand perhaps its a blessingdont have insight into that because the part of the brain that gives us insight and self-awareness is affected quite early on in dementia. Sometimes, you can try and introduce the topic, but it can be very difficult for people who are in the early stages of dementia to visualize a future self and what they might want.
You can keep it very general and say, Was that a good idea? What happened to that person? What would you like? Discussing the subject with your siblings or other family members could be helpful, but dont put too much pressure on the person with dementia because its conceptually difficult to think, What would my future self want? But a very gentle discussion at an opportune moment could be helpful.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How Does Dementia Kill You
Dementia is an umbrella term that covers many progressive brain diseases including Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and vascular dementia, among others. Patients of these diseases often exhibit different symptoms in the early stages of the specific disease they were diagnosed with but during the late stages, most symptoms are the same.
Its a common misconception that dementia itself doesnt kill the patient but rather major health events while suffering from dementia are the cause.
While its not uncommon for major health issues to be associated with dementia, the majority of patients die from the disease itself. That is why many experts recommend palliative care for patients in the end-stage of dementia. Rather than utilizing aggressive treatments for health problems caused by dementia, which cause additional distress and discomfort while rarely extending lifespan, they recommend keeping the patient comfortable and improving quality of life.
Here you can see the actual signs to look for in the end stages of dementia.
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Being Patient: Is Community
Jasja De Smedt Kotterman: My mother didnt die at home, she died in a care home, and I think there was no other option for us. We wouldnt have had her in our home. We just knew that very importantly, we didnt want her to die in a hospital. It was important because we had some support for us as well. The nurses gave us meals so we didnt have to worry about that. I almost felt like we were being taken care of as well, which was really appreciated. You could always ask for help if you needed to. The last few days before she was on the morphine, we were just trying to figure out different ways to get liquids into her, so wed ask for advice. The doctors werent always around, so it was helpful to talk to other people in the home. I think its good to have people with experience around you who can guide you through the process.