Why do people die from Alzheimer's Disease?
Q: If Alzheimer’s is a disease of the memory, how do people die from it?
A: Alzheimer's disease is a complex disease. The disease is not only a memory disease as it manifests initially with a marked memory failure. Alzheimer's affects higher brain functions and learning.
When the clinical picture of the disease is fully developed the patient cannot remember who they are, what to do, what they have done and what needs to be done. They do not perform the tasks that keep our body alive and functioning. People in the final stages of Alzheimer's can have problems swallowing or eating.
The typical case affects an elderly person in their sixties or seventies or eighties. The lack of self awareness and care, prolonged bedding, feeding failure and incapacity to provide proper nutrients are all factors in the development of other life-threatening diseases.
So typically complications of Alzheimer's are heart attacks, thromboembolisms, strokes, kidney failure, and lung infections due to aspiration of food. Multi-organ failure is usually the cause of death in these patients.
Learn more about the Stages of Alzheimer's
Dr. Maurizio Grimaldi heads the Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience Laboratory at Southern Research Institute. Read his full biography