Several health risk factors have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s itself can be a risk factor for other health problems, particularly as it progresses to later stages. Read to learn more about six health ailments related to Alzheimer’s.
In the United States, roughly five million people have Alzheimer’s disease. Research has shown that Alzheimer’s results from multiple factors rather than a single cause, and common risk factors include advanced age, family history and certain genetic mutations.
Due to the effects Alzheimer’s has on the body, it also increases an individual’s risks for other health ailments, especially as the disease advances.
Health Risks of Impaired Communication
In the early stages, Alzheimer’s affects not just memory but language and communication. So, seniors with Alzheimer’s may not report symptoms of another illness, such as a cold or even an injury.
The Mayo Clinic explains that the memory loss, impaired judgment and cognitive changes of Alzheimer’s make it more difficult to treat other health conditions. For instance, people with Alzheimer’s may not follow a prescribed treatment plan for another illness, and they may not notice any other medication’s side effects. So, what might start as a minor health issue may escalate to a severe problem.
Health Conditions Linked to Alzheimer’s
As Alzheimer’s advances to later stages, it impacts a person’s ability to swallow and balance, and control their bowels and bladder. At that point, individuals become susceptible to several serious health problems, including:
- Pneumonia: The inability to swallow correctly increases a person’s chances of inhaling or aspirating food or liquid into their lungs; aspiration pneumonia is the leading cause of death for people with Alzheimer’s.
- Urinary tract infections: Loss of bladder control may require insertion of a urinary catheter, which increases risks for urinary tract infections.
- Fall-related injuries: Poor balance can lead to falls and related injuries, including fractures and serious head injuries.
- Immobility: Seniors with late stage Alzheimer’s are often bedridden, putting them at risk for bed sores, loss of muscle function and infections.
- Malnutrition and dehydration: The more difficult it becomes to ingest food or water, the more likely a senior with Alzheimer’s may become malnourished or suffer dehydration.
- Depression: Lack of social interaction and cognitive decline may lead to depression as well as mood swings, aggressive or violent behavior, delusions and personality changes.
Decreasing Alzheimer’s-Related Illnesses
Alzheimer’s affects individuals differently. So, not all people will suffer the same Alzheimer’s-related health conditions, although incontinence and difficulty swallowing are common ailments.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented. But, people with a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia may consider incorporating certain life style habits into their routine. According to the National Institutes of Health, these habits include:
- Eating a low-fat diet, including cold-water fish (tuna, salmon and mackerel) that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Increasing intake of antioxidants by consuming plenty of dark-colored fruits and vegetables
- Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
- Staying socially and mentally active throughout life
Talk to your health care provider about your risks for Alzheimer’s before you make any life style changes, especially if you already take medication for another health issue.
- How Alzheimer’s Evolves From Early to Late Stages
- How Alzheimer’s Impacts Men and Women Differently
- Your Chances of Developing Alzheimer’s When Both Parents Suffer