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Can You Die From Alzheimer's?

January 17, 2022
Can You Die From Alzheimer's?
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Although Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death among all adults, it kills indirectly. Patients with Alzheimer’s ultimately die due to complications resulting from the decline in brain function brought on by the disease.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? If you’ve recently asked yourself the question, “can you die from Alzheimer’s?” keep reading to learn valuable information about Alzheimer's disease progression, the role of the caregiver, and the opportunity to participate in ongoing research through a paid clinical trial at Santos Research Center in Tampa, FL.

Can You Die From Alzheimer's?

Stage 1: Before Symptoms Appear

Alzheimer’s and related dementias begin before any noticeable symptoms develop. This is called the preclinical Alzheimer's disease stage and can often persist for years without the individual knowing they have the disease. Preclinical Alzheimer’s is identified in research settings with the help of several key pieces of technology: brain scans, identification of biomarkers, and genetic testing.

New imaging technologies can detect Alzheimer’s in its early stage by identifying abnormal protein deposits in the brain that are indicative of the disease.

Specific biomarkers—biological molecules present in blood or other bodily fluids that can measure the increased risk of disease—have been identified for Alzheimer’s disease. The presence of these biomarkers can be used to support a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, though this is typically done when the individual has already been experiencing symptoms.

Genetic testing can also be used to determine if someone is at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. It is particularly useful in determining the increased risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

All three of these technologies are vital to researching and developing new Alzheimer’s treatments.

Stage 2: Basic Forgetfulness

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, people will experience mild cognitive impairment, with changes to their thinking and memory. These changes aren’t severe enough to affect their daily life yet, but people may have memory lapses when attempting to recall information that should be easily remembered. This information includes events, appointments, or conversations you’ve had with friends or family.

Not everyone who experiences these symptoms has early stage Alzheimer’s, as these difficulties may be attributed to something else. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is crucial to speak with a doctor to identify the cause.

Can You Die From Alzheimer

Stage 3: Noticeable Memory Difficulties

In this stage, the disease progresses to the point that people will begin to have noticeable difficulties with memory and thinking that will affect daily functioning. These changes are apparent to friends, family members, and their doctors; Alzheimer’s is typically diagnosed in this stage.

Significant changes to memory and thinking include:

  • Memory loss relating to recent events. People may have difficulty retaining information (especially new information) and repeatedly ask the same questions.
  • Getting lost. Individuals wander and get lost even when in familiar areas.
  • Misplacing items. It is very common for people to lose or misplace their belongings.

Stage 4: More Than Memory Loss

In addition to memory loss, individuals with Alzheimer’s will begin to change in other ways:

  • Personality changes. They may become more subdued or irritable. Depression and decreased motivation are also common. These changes are especially apparent in social situations.
  • Difficulty problem solving or executing complex tasks. Planning events becomes overwhelming. Individuals may experience lapses in judgment, such as making poor financial decisions as thinking skills become compromised.
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts. Expressing ideas or finding the right words to describe objects becomes increasingly difficult.

Can You Die From Alzheimer

Stage 5: Decreased Independence

Due to increasing forgetfulness and confusion as Alzheimer’s develops, people in later stages of the disease may need increased assistance with carrying out daily activities. Many individuals in this stage can have difficulty carrying out multi-step tasks and quickly become lost and confused. For safety reasons, individuals in the moderate stages should not be left alone.

For example, picking appropriate clothes to wear and dressing can become next to impossible and require the assistance of a caregiver. Individuals may also need help with other self-care tasks such as grooming, bathing, or using the bathroom.

Wandering becomes especially dangerous as Alzheimer’s develops. People often lose track of where they are and can be inclined to continue wandering in search of more familiar surroundings. It is especially dangerous for people to be left unsupervised because they may mistake strangers for family or friends.

On top of that, individuals will begin to forget pieces of who they are, including vital information such as their address or phone number and may make up stories to fill in these gaps, making identification of a lost person with Alzheimer’s particularly difficult.

Stage 6: Severe Symptoms

At this stage, mental functions continue to decline, and the changes in the brain have an increased impact on the individual’s physical capabilities.

People generally lose the ability to communicate at this stage. Though they may still be able to say words or phrases, their speech is not coherent, and they cannot carry on a conversation in a way that makes sense.

Individuals will require daily assistance with personal care. This includes dressing, eating, using the bathroom, and bathing.

Stage 7: Lack of Physical Control

As Alzheimer’s progresses, people lose control over their physical capabilities. For example, individuals may not be able to walk without assistance, then become unable to sit upright without support. Reflexes can become abnormal as well. Eventually, individuals will lose control over their bladder and bowels. They will also lose the ability to swallow.

At this stage, people are entirely dependent on others for their care and are usually in a bed most or all of the time.

Can You Die From Alzheimer's?

You Know What Stage of Alzheimer’s Your Loved One Is in—Now What?

Accepting an Alzheimer’s diagnosis will undoubtedly be a complicated time for you and your loved one. The diagnosis can be upsetting and overwhelming, but these emotions are normal among caregivers, family members, and people with Alzheimer’s. Understand that you are all going through this together and support each other.

By asking yourself, “can you die from Alzheimer’s?” and taking the time to read this article, you have already done some hard work in understanding the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s. This is a significant first step toward supporting your loved ones and getting them the care they need.

Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are various treatment options. Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s also have the opportunity to participate in studies or clinical trials to develop new treatments. Paid clinical trials are currently being conducted in the greater Tampa Bay area by Santos Research Center.

Your Role as a Caregiver: Assistance, Support and Care

How can you help your loved one when they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Everyone experiences the progression of Alzheimer’s differently, so it is vital to listen to and understand your loved one and be supportive of what they are going through. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ask or say one thing at a time to help prevent confusion. Use gestures to enhance communication.
  • Create a consistent daily routine. Sticking to a routine helps your loved one anticipate tasks and remember what is happening around them.
  • Reduce distractions. Eliminating background noise by turning off radios or televisions makes it easier to focus during conversations.
  • Listen to their concerns. Be open and sympathetic when someone wants to discuss their feelings.
  • Continue to pursue activities together. Try simple daily activities like listening to music or taking a walk. Focus on the person’s abilities and talents to keep them engaged and interested.
  • Provide choices. For example, give the option to choose between two different outfits to wear that day. Keep these simple and easy to understand.
  • Create a safe environment. Prevent falls by installing handrails in essential areas and removing tripping hazards like loose rugs, cords, or other clutter. Lock cabinets that contain potentially dangerous items.

Clinical Trials

Are you or your loved one interested in entering clinical trials for Alzheimer’s research in the greater Tampa Bay area? Santos Research Center is currently conducting paid clinical trials in Tampa, FL. Santos Research Center works closely with pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations to promote quality clinical research while exemplifying integrity, professionalism, and excellence in patient care.

You can find more information on Santos Research Center at their website or contact them by phone at (813) 249-9100.

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Santos Research Center, Corp. is a research facility conducting paid clinical trials, in partnership with major pharmaceutical companies & CROs. We work with patients from across the Tampa Bay area.

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