Study after study suggests different health risk factors result in Alzheimer’s disease. Research shows that Alzheimer’s stems from multiple factors as opposed to a single cause. Typical risk factors include advanced age, family history and certain genetic mutations.
As it turns out, Alzheimer’s itself can be a risk factor for other health problems, as well. This is especially true as individuals encounter the later stages of the disease.
Early on, Alzheimer’s impairs more than just memory. It also affects language and communication skills, according to Mayo Clinic. This makes it difficult for those with Alzheimer’s to describe symptoms of other ailments, and it can also be more difficult to treat other health conditions. Those with Alzheimer’s may find it difficult to follow a treatment plan, for example, and they may not recognize medicine’s side effects. Minor health issues can therefore escalate to severe problems.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, the disease influences a person’s ability to swallow, keep their balance and control their bowels and bladder, as well. They become vulnerable to serious health conditions as a result.
– Pneumonia: Difficulty swallowing can enhance someone’s chances of inhaling or aspirating food or liquid into their lungs. In turn, this may cause aspiration pneumonia, which can be life threatening.
– Urinary tract infections: A urinary catheter may be necessary for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, particularly when they have trouble with bladder control. Catheters increase risks for urinary tract infections.
– Fall-related injuries: Lack of balance can lead to falls, and falls result in injuries, including fractures and severe head trauma.
– Immobility: Bed sores, loss of muscle function and infections are common for those who are bedridden. Those in the late stages of Alzheimer’s are often bedridden, putting them at greater risk for these ailments.
– Malnutrition and dehydration: As Alzheimer’s progresses, consuming food and water becomes more and more difficult. This makes it more likely for someone with Alzheimer’s to suffer from malnutrition or dehydration.
– Depression: Cognitive decline and more limited social interaction may cause depression among those with Alzheimer’s, along with other behavioral symptoms.
Given that Alzheimer’s affects each person differently, not everyone will endure the same health conditions. Still, it’s important to note the possibility of these health issues that may stem from Alzheimer’s, so that family members, friends and caregivers can be on the lookout for any complications.