Alzheimer's Disease: Prognosis and Complications
Overview of complications from Alzheimer's disease plus prognosis for the Alzheimer's patient.
A person with Alzheimer's disease can experience the following complications:
- Falls (from impaired coordination)
- "Sundowning" (withdrawal or agitation in the evening)
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Infection (from urinary tract infections or pneumonia)
- Asphyxiation (stopped breathing)
- Harmful or violent behavior toward self or others
- Poor health and support due to caregiver burnout
- Physical and emotional abuse, including neglect
- Coronary disease
There is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease; the disease naturally progresses and worsens over time. People with the disease can survive for many years, however. While most people with Alzheimer's die within 8 to 10 years, some live as long as 25 years. Some people decline steadily during their disease, while others reach major plateaus where their symptoms advance quite slowly. Men and people with a long-standing history of high blood pressure are more likely to decline rapidly. Additionally, the older a person with Alzheimer's disease becomes, the more likely he or she is to decline rapidly. An accurate, early diagnosis gives affected individuals a greater chance of benefiting from existing treatments.
Last Updated: 26 February 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD