What Are Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease?

complications of alzheimer's disease

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common kind of dementia and a neurodegenerative illness that affects the brain. Alzheimer’s severely impairs a person’s ability to lead a to carry out their tasks daily. This is because Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder.

The onset of Alzheimer’s disease often occurs beyond the age of 65; however, the symptoms typically manifest themselves gradually and, before this age, are sometimes overlooked as being a natural part of the aging process (slower thinking, disorientation, and forgetting things).

Alzheimer’s disease is defined by an increase in abnormal clumps known as amyloid plaques and twisted threads of proteins known as neurofibrillary tangles. These aberrant deposits of chemicals in and around the neurons are what give Alzheimer’s disease its name.

Some of these changes are natural consequences of aging, but in an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, they manifest to a far more severe degree than they do in the average person.

Scientists believe that the interaction between the neurons in the brain, particularly in regions of the brain that are responsible for learning and memory, can become disrupted. As a result, there is a reduction in the number of nerve cells. In addition to this, it seems as though the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain are low, which may also play a part in developing this condition.

It is known that Alzheimer’s disease damages brain cells by gradually causing them to fail to function properly. However, researchers do not yet have a clear understanding of the factors that lead to the deterioration of brain cells in such a manner.

Complications Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Complications Of Alzheimer’s Disease

When Alzheimer’s progresses to its latter stages, a person’s physical functioning is frequently affected. This can manifest as problems with balance or weakness and difficulties with swallowing; all of these symptoms can potentially lead to consequences.

Therefore, in order to maintain the patient’s well-being and keep them safe from harm, it is essential to be conscious of the various complications that may result from the consequences of Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Bedsores

Bedsores can develop when a person remains immobile for an extended amount of time in one position, such as sitting or lying in bed. This leads to the decomposition of the skin in the affected region due to the persistent pressure. It gets increasingly difficult for a person who has Alzheimer’s disease to move around as the condition develops. As a result, the patient may spend more time lying down or sitting in the same position.

If they are bedbound, frequent pressure relieving techniques and skin checks should be incorporated at least once every two hours to improve blood circulation and alleviate pressure on various parts of the body.

The skin of the person who has Alzheimer’s disease should be kept clean and dry, and they should get frequent checkups to see if there are any problems or breakdowns with their skin. If you cannot get comfortable or need to alleviate pressure, pillows can help.

2. Pneumonia

The movement might become restricted or perhaps become impossible as Alzheimer’s disease advances. Because of this, a person is at a greater risk of contracting infections, including pneumonia, which makes them sick more easily. It is possible to lower one’s chance of having pneumonia by removing germs from one’s teeth and mouth on a regular basis. If the individual wears dentures, it is important to clean them regularly.

You  may want to talk to the doctor about getting vaccinated against the flu every year since it can lead to pneumonia. In addition, individuals can receive a vaccine against pneumococcal pneumonia once every five years to help lower their chances of contracting the disease. Have a discussion with your physician about the possibility of contracting pneumonia and the steps you may take to lower that possibility and maintain your health.

3. Dehydration And Malnutrition

Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a significant decrease in appetite, which frequently occurs along with a person’s declining mobility. They may just forget to drink water or eat or even refuse to do so, but they must continue to take in sufficient quantities of nutrients and remain hydrated.

Make an effort to modify how you prepare meals by making them more substantial so that they may be eaten with greater ease. If you want to improve your fluid consumption, try soups made with broth or fruit, and pay attention to how much your weight varies. Make an appointment with their primary care provider as soon as possible if they have a severe decrease in weight.

4. Wandering And Restlessness

An indication of restlessness is fidgeting, an inability to sit still for very long, or difficulty maintaining focus on a single task for very long. Restlessness can also potentially result in wandering, which could increase the risk of the person living with dementia walking out of the home and getting lost.

There might be several reasons for your restlessness and wandering. A few reasons can include the following: boredom, confusion, an unmet need that needs to be addressed.

Because of the disease’s harm to the memory, the person you care about may spend much of their time feeling lost and confused. It’s possible that wandering and restlessness are symptoms of an anxious mind searching for calmness.

In addition, your loved one’s restlessness and roaming may be a side effect of some medications or a symptom that they are dissatisfied over not being capable of expressing themselves.

5. Sleep Disturbances

The natural process of aging is characterized by a gradual reduction in the amount of sleep required by an individual. As a result, older adults often sleep less deeply and wake up more frequently than younger people, and they no longer require the full eight hours of sleep that younger people require each day. A full bladder, discomfort, or leg cramps are all examples of direct physical factors that could result in sleep disruptions.

The usual decrease in the amount of time spent in deep sleep and the disorientation brought on by dementia can often lead to issues. For example, if the person you care about wakes up in the middle of the night, there is a chance that they will walk around, putting themselves in danger of becoming hurt.

Many negative consequences might result from having a disrupted night’s sleep. For example, if the sleep of a person you care about is disrupted, there is a good likelihood that your own sleep will suffer as well. As a result, both of you might be put at risk for health problems.

Your inability to get enough sleep can make the symptoms your loved one is experiencing worse, and it can also make it more difficult for you to deal with the stress of providing care and carrying out your responsibilities.

Medical conditions can be treated to alleviate symptoms such as restlessness, wandering, and sleep disruption. On the other hand, if these behaviors are merely the consequence of the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease, then it is highly unlikely that treatment will be successful. As a result, a medical professional must investigate any issues of this kind as quickly as possible.

6. Loss of Control of Bodily Functions

The failure to control any of one’s bodily functions, including eating, becoming incontinent, soiling one’s undergarments, lacking the ability to regulate the emptying of the bowels, is one of the most common complications seen in people whose Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to a later stage.

7. Injuries Due To Falls

Balance and coordination might be affected by Alzheimer’s disease as well. As the condition progresses, the person is at an increased risk of falling. This can result in injuries.

If your loved one is experiencing a decline in their balance, it would be  beneficial to discuss with the doctor the benefits of a physical therapist evaluation to further assess and recommend any beneficial equipment. Also, ensuring sure the pathways in their house are free of obstacles and clutter can decrease the likelihood that they will get an injury from falling.

Also, a medical alert device is a great option for a loved one who lives alone so that if they have a fall and are unable to get to a phone, they will still be able to contact emergency services.

8. Agitation

Try to do things to make a loved one feel more secure and at ease. For example, you may begin by establishing a comfortable setting and reducing any stressors that could induce agitation, like loud noise. This will increase the person’s chances of regaining control of their feelings and feeling more calm.

When they are feeling pain, they are more prone to feel agitated and irritable. If they cannot talk or explain how they are feeling, this may cause them to become more agitated. Take measures to ensure that their needs levels of discomfort, hunger, and thirst are met. maintained at a pleasant level. You may also alleviate their anxiety by telling them that they are not in danger.

9. Infections

In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, many people become incontinent, which increases the risk of the patient developing an infection in their urinary tract. In the event that a urinary tract infection goes untreated, the repercussions might be quite severe.

In addition to this, a person in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease is more likely to get various infections, each one of which can become very severe and even life-threatening quickly.

10. Depression

Some persons who have Alzheimer’s disease also suffer from depression and have no idea how to deal with the gradual loss of cognitive abilities. Depression can have symptoms that are quite similar to those of Alzheimer’s. Because of this, it may be difficult to establish whether or not the symptoms your loved one is exhibiting are those typical of AD rather than depression.

Your loved one may be referred to a geriatric psychiatrist by their primary care physician in order for this determination to be made.

Closing Thoughts

As is the case with any condition, it is important to remain vigilant regarding the problems that might result from the many different components of Alzheimer’s disease. Things that one would not expect or things that don’t seem to be connected might really come from the cognitive or physical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Talk to the person’s doctor about the various complications that might crop up at different stages of the disease and particular issues that are connected to any other health conditions that the person may already be suffering from.


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