According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, learning about the disease and its complications can help you support him or her and provide the Palm Beach home care he or she needs.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for approximately 60 to 80 percent of all cases. The disease slowly destroys connections in the brain via plaques, causing problems with memory, behavior, thinking, and brain function. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, though certain treatments can slow its progression.
What Is the Life Expectancy After Diagnosis?The Alzheimer’s Association estimates a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 65 or older will live an average of 4 to 8 years. However, some may live up to 20 years after symptoms begin appearing, while others die shortly after diagnosis. The older a person is when symptoms appear, the shorter his or her life expectancy is likely to be. For example, a 2009 research study found seniors who were diagnosed with the disease when they were in their 90s lived less than 3 years.
Which Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease Are Fatal?When the brain isn’t able to properly send out signals to the other organs of the body, bodily functions no longer work, eventually resulting in death. The most common complication of Alzheimer’s disease is aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when swallowing becomes difficult and food or liquid goes down the windpipe into the lungs instead of the esophagus. Once the foreign matter is in the lungs, pneumonia develops. Other fatal complications of the disease include:
- Sepsis infection from undiagnosed urinary tract infections
- Injuries from falls
- Various infections