Does Alzheimer's Kill?
People think of Alzheimer’s as a strictly mental issue, which it is. However, no one really makes the association between this mental illness and death. After all, how could a mental ailment possibly kill you? Isn’t this merely an issue of lost memories?
In fact, Alzheimer’s can kill. In the United States, Alzheimer’s is the sixth most common cause of death. For most people, this is probably perplexing and expectedly so.
What is Alzheimer’s?
The term refers to a progressive degenerative disease that affects the gray matter of the brain. This part of the brain governs factors like memory, thinking, and movement, not to mention sensation. The white matter of the brain isn’t left unharmed either.
How Alzheimer’s kills?
When this ailment begins to manifest, nerve connections in the brain are getting destroyed. This makes it considerably difficult to execute simple ordinary tasks (in some cases the patients even have difficulties swallowing).
These changes in the brain do not kill. They devastate the brain, but they do not actually kill. Rather, health hazards arise because the death of neurons in the brain complicates bodily functions.
People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease eventually succumb to health issues and problems such as the following:
Patients with Alzheimer’s are very susceptible to pneumonia. Not only do they struggle to walk and sit upright or even swallow, but such diminished mobility impacts the capacity of one’s lungs to expand. This, in turn, reduces their capacity to manage secretions, which increases one’s susceptibility to pneumonia.
Alzheimer's, especially as it progresses, diminishes an individual's ability to eat appropriately. This is especially true for Alzheimer’s patients who are living on their own, without any external assistance.
This reduction in the intake of food leads to nutrient deficiencies which, in turn, cause problems like organ failure, reduced resistance to infection and, eventually, death.
Alzheimer’s patients often succumb to accidents resulting from their diminished mental capacity. Automobile accidents are especially common for people with Alzheimer’s, which is why patients with the disease require such close supervision.
From heart failure to diabetes and chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s is the cause of many dangerous illnesses. This isn't even taking into account all the fractures that can occur.
It could be argued that Alzheimer's patients die because the disease makes them unable to care for themselves, which, in turn, makes them succumb to illnesses other people can usually prevent.