how does alzheimer’s kill you?


My mom got diagnosed with early onset alzheimer’s back in 2009 when she was in her early 40s and she lost her mind a couple months after, but she still lives to this day only it’s not her anymore if that makes sense. I hear lots of people say they lost their loved ones to alzheimer’s and it kills me that my mom can’t get the same fate because (I’m gonna get alot of hate for this) death is far more humane than what she’s going through at the moment.

In: 38

Sorry for what you’re going through. Alzheimer’s doesn’t kill directly, at least not rapidly. Most Alzheimer’s patients are elderly when first diagnosed, so they don’t necessarily last a long time post-diagnosis just due to age and the likelihood of having age-related conditions become increasingly difficult to manage with dementia. But for those with youth or robust health at the start of a diagnosis, they can live for a long, long time, especially if they have an attentive caregiver and resources to keep them alive. Do what you can to bring her even fleeting moments of happiness – music seems to resonate with even advanced dementia patients – but there’s little else you can do. Take solace in the fact that she has no idea that she’s suffering if that helps.

Alzheimer’s disease is mostly associated with memory loss, but that’s just one of the early symptoms. Over time you basically start losing part of your brain functions, you stop being able to physically take care of yourself. You eat less, move less and so your body degenerates. Eventually you die from related causes like bed sores and pneumonia.

Basically your brain forgets how to breathe or how to make your heart beat. Alzheimer’s slowly kills neurons typically starting with the more complex pathways memories takes. But eventually it will damage the larger pathways the brain uses for all the automatic functions of the human body.

Though, people often refer to “losing their loved one to Alzheimer’s” as the day they realized they didn’t recognize their loved one anymore; even though they were still living.

I am sorry for what you’re going through and can’t even imagine the pain you feel.

Alzheimers is the slow degradation of the brain. Eventually what happens is the part of the brain that controls breathing, heart rate, etc will degrade and stop working. Typically before that point, however, death comes from other medical issues such as a UTI which goes unnoticed due to the patient being unable to bring attention to it.

Also, for what it’s worth, you’re not a bad person for thinking that

Not a physician, but dealing with losing a loved as well, I’m sorry for your situation, it’s tragic.

Alzheimer’s is caused by damage to the brain, “plaques”, a sort of blockage, form that prevent the brain’s connections from communicating properly. The obvious signs are things like memory and function loss. But eventually person will lose important functions like mobility, bowel/urinary control, and speech.

In terms of death, it’s usually secondary things that kill the victim, diseases caused by lack of movement (metabolic disease, blood clots, diabetes, stroke, etc.), lack of sanitation (causing infections), and the reduced ability to fight infections like pneumonia.

Most alzheimer caused deaths are not directly from the disease. However in late stage alzheimer’s people are unable to take care of themselves at all. It is not just their memories and their language but basic motor function and appetite stops working. If they are hurt they are unable to tell anyone or even do anything about it themselves. For example if they get sore when laying a bit too long on their side then they will not be able to even perform the basic function of turning themselves a bit. If their nurses help them turn and then lie them down in a bit of a sore spot for them it can form ulcers which can get infected and finally kill them, it is not like they can even tell their caretakers that they hurt. If this is not enough to kill them then they might even have problems eating properly. Even with intravenous feeding their stomachs do not work properly and they might end up getting fatal stomach ulcers. People with alzheimer’s are far more likely to die from very simple things like infections and ulcers then any healthy person just because they are unable to help the people taking care of them. As for assisted suicide one of the most active areas of discussion is around sufferers of alzheimer’s disease.

You don’t deserve any hate for that statement, I have dealt with dementia in my own family and I have worked in dementia care my whole adult life. You are not the only person who feels death is more humane than the suffering people and their families go through.

Dementia’s slowly kill off and shut down parts of the brain, sometimes this can be because other things are growing in the brain such as plaque or parts of the brain become tangled, which is the case in Alzheimer’s.

As these parts die and cause brain damage, you notice certain symptoms, starting with memory loss, moving onto confusion and mood and behaviour changes, eventually this can lead to areas such as speech and motor skills. Some people with Alzheimer’s go on to have swallowing difficulties because the part of the brain responsible for eating and swallowing is damaged (which is why some need pureed foods and thickened fluids).

While I’m not a doctor, from what I have noticed throughout my work, deaths are often caused by several things. Most commonly people stop eating, drinking and swallowing all together and doctors and families find it kinder to let their loved one pass rather than insert feeding tubes. Secondly people’s bodies begin to shut down, usually either the heart or lungs. Thirdly there may be something else as the cause, such as a stroke, seizure, severe infection, etc.

No hate your way. I get it and see it everyday as well. My wife and I take care of her grandfather who is dealing with it also. It’s not easy and I can see how death can seem more humane than having to see their decline and confusion. It’s sad to see him at 90 years old walking around not knowing that the house is his, not believing that it is, looking for his mother because he doesn’t know where he is. To live everyday not knowing, he is probably very scared, and it hurts to see.
With that alzheimers damages nerve connections in the brain. With enough damage occurring as it progresses, the person loses certain functions. They forget how to eat, swallowing, pretty much the basics of self care. Eventually the damage becomes so substantial that it will destroy parts of the brain that control the organs like the lungs, heart, etc. It is at this point where the disease causes death due to the brains diminished ability to properly communicate with these parts of the body. That is a very simplified way to put it but I’m not a doctor. This is how I understand it and I hope it helps you understand and I encourage you look into it yourself as well. I wish you well and hope for the best in this difficult time.

>(I’m gonna get alot of hate for this) death is far more humane than what she’s going through at the moment.

If anyone says that, you tell them to fuck right off because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

I’m sorry for what you’re going through. Alzheimer’s doesn’t kill people. Most people with Alzheimer’s die of pneumonia because they ‘forget’ how to swallow and food goes in their lungs. That causes an infection that ultimately kills them.

>I hear lots of people say they lost their loved ones to alzheimer’s and it kills me that my mom can’t get the same fate because (I’m gonna get alot of hate for this) death is far more humane than what she’s going through at the moment.

Anyone who gives you hate over that statement can fuck right off. My father had Lewy Body dementia, and his death was, in a lot of ways, a relief. We lost him long before his body actually quit and for the last several years, all I wanted was for his suffering to end. It’s absurd that, as a society, we routinely accept that it’s inhumane to let animals suffer at the end of their lives, but we don’t give humans the same compassion.

[Eventually, if they don’t lose the desire to eat, aspiration pneumonia becomes a serious risk]( Basically, the reflexes necessary to swallow properly, food is inhaled, and it feeds bacteria in the lungs.

You should talk with her care team, and other family members, and try to plan ahead for what happens if a serious health problem like pneumonia happens. Aspiration pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics and temporary tube feeding, but it happens again and again. Eventually, if the patient is constantly fed through a tube, they can inhale their own saliva to a degree that it damages the lungs.

You, and your advisors, should consider whether it is best *not* to treat illnesses like pneumonia.

Like you, I have an inherited risk of dementia, and I have made it clear to my family that I want no life extending care at all. You should do the same.

> I hear lots of people say they lost their loved ones to alzheimer’s and it kills me that my mom can’t get the same fate because (I’m gonna get alot of hate for this) death is far more humane than what she’s going through at the moment.

I do not have Alzheimer’s, but if I do get diagnosed, I want death vs lingering on. Death is far more humane than 13 years of nothingness.

I think you are a strong daughter/son for saying that. It is no malicious, it is the truth.

Alzheimers is one of my biggest fears in which I would not wish upon my enemy as it’s truly a brutal way to go in life.

No one should send you hate for this.