Because dementia is an incurable disease, there is one pertinent question that many ask and that is how do dementia patients die?
Before answering this question it is important to note that in many countries Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia have been documented as the leading cause of death in the country, especially for the older generation.
According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, deaths due to dementia doubled from 40,253 in 2007 to 87, 199 in 2017 and the trend does not appear to change anytime soon.
In America, dementia is the 6th leading cause of death and currently, millions of people are living with the disease.
World Health Organization estimates that the number of dementia deaths across the globe will increase by more than 40% from 2015 to 2030.
How Does Dementia Lead to Death?
Before a person dies from dementia, there are a couple of warning signs they may showcase as discussed below.
End-Stage Dementia Signs and Symptoms
Several signs may be an indication that a person with dementia is living their final days on earth.
These can differ from one affected person to another because different individuals have varying reactions to the illness.
Examples of some common end-of-life warning signs include:
- An increase in hospital admissions or visits
- Diagnosis of other medical conditions like congestive heart failure or different cancer types
- Loss of the ability to communicate
- Immobility which can make a person bedridden
- Challenges when eating and drinking
- Terminal restlessness or agitation because a person becomes extremely disoriented and confused
- Difficulties in breathing
- Legs, arms, feet, and hands become cold to touch
To get back to answering the query do dementia patients die, many experts agree that the actual death of an individual who has dementia may be due to another medical condition.
During the later stages of dementia, the affected person is likely to be in a trailer.
This implies that their immunity is compromised, hence they cannot effectively cope with physical problems or infections.
Several factors can lead to the death of a person who has dementia such as
Lack of Proper Nutrition
Food acts as fuel for the human body. When the body is not getting proper nutrition, there is a likelihood that an array of problems will start developing.
This is what happens during the later dementia stages.
Persons with the illness will struggle to eat well, hydrate, and stay healthy.
Many may not be in a position to prepare or eat food without assistance. This may cause them to go off food which can make them dangerously lose weight.
Some individuals will also lose muscle control towards the end of the disease where they cannot chew properly or even swallow food.
When the individual is not getting adequate nourishment, they become weaker and are more susceptible to the risk of infections, fractures, and falls which may lead to their demise.
There are also chances that a person with dementia may end up inhaling fluids or foods. It mostly happens because they lose the skill to coordinate breathing and swallowing because of the damage that happens in the brain which controls these activities.
When this happens, it can lead to life-threatening chest infections and choking.
When you ask how do dementia patients die, the answer might be because of other co-existing diseases.
A huge percentage of people with dementia also suffer from other chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and hypertension amongst others.
It can become challenging to try and manage dementia with other illnesses so it becomes easy for a person to experience the complications associated with these conditions which can lead them to their last breath.
Several studies reveal that people within the last stage of dementia become vulnerable to all sorts of medical conditions.
Autopsies often reveal that the main cause of death for persons with dementia are pneumonia, dehydration, cardiovascular diseases, cachexia, and pulmonary embolism.
Other facts that may contribute to dementia deaths include increased falls, advanced age, and delirium.
Sadly dementia does not only make a person forgetful and weak. It is a serious progressive condition that is terminal.
Reading the text above will reveal answers to the question on how do dementia patients die.