Why Does Alzheimer’s Disease Become Fatal?

Alzheimer’s disease is a challenging condition that affects the brain, leading to memory loss and cognitive decline. Many people wonder why Alzheimer’s can be fatal, especially since there is no cure for this disease. In this blog post, I will discuss the reasons behind the fatality of Alzheimer’s in a simple and straightforward manner.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

An Elderly Man Sitting on a Train

Before delving into why Alzheimer’s can be fatal, let’s understand what Alzheimer’s disease is. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, a brain disorder that impacts memory, thinking, and behavior. It gradually worsens over time, affecting a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.

The Absence of a Cure

One key factor contributing to the fatality of Alzheimer’s is the lack of a cure. Unlike some other illnesses that can be treated or managed effectively, there is currently no way to reverse or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This absence of a cure makes managing the condition and its consequences particularly challenging.

The Progression of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease follows a progressive course. It starts with mild memory loss and confusion and advances to severe cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, the brain undergoes significant changes, affecting its structure and function.

How Alzheimer’s Affects the Brain

Alzheimer’s primarily targets brain cells, leading to their degeneration. The brain cells, or neurons, communicate through connections called synapses. In Alzheimer’s, abnormal protein clumps called plaques and twisted tangles of another protein disrupt these connections, causing neurons to die.

Loss of Brain Function

As more neurons die, the brain experiences a substantial loss of function. Memory, reasoning, and other cognitive abilities decline, impacting an individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks. This progressive loss of brain function is a key aspect of why Alzheimer’s becomes fatal.

Dehydration: A Silent Threat

drink water

One of the indirect but significant contributors to the fatality of Alzheimer’s is dehydration. People with Alzheimer’s may forget to drink water or find it challenging to recognize their body’s signals of thirst. Additionally, the disease can affect the brain’s control over basic bodily functions, including regulating water balance.

How Does Dehydration Contribute to Fatality?

Dehydration occurs when the body lacks enough water to function properly. In advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals may be unable to communicate their need for water, leading to insufficient fluid intake. Dehydration can result in serious complications, affecting various organs and systems in the body.

Impact on Organs

Dehydration puts stress on vital organs such as the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure. The heart also has to work harder to pump blood when there is a reduced fluid volume, potentially causing cardiovascular issues.

Weakening the Immune System

Adequate hydration is crucial for a robust immune system. Dehydration weakens the body’s defenses, making individuals with Alzheimer’s more susceptible to infections.

Malnutrition: The Consequence of Forgetfulness

Another critical factor that makes Alzheimer’s fatal is malnutrition. As the disease progresses, individuals may forget to eat or lose interest in food. They may also face challenges in preparing meals or remembering when they last ate.

How Does Malnutrition Affect Health?

Malnutrition occurs when the body doesn’t receive enough essential nutrients to maintain proper health and function. In the context of Alzheimer’s, malnutrition can have severe consequences.

Weakening Muscles and Bones

A lack of proper nutrition can lead to muscle wasting and bone density loss. This can result in increased frailty and the risk of falls, further complicating the health of individuals with Alzheimer’s.

Impaired Cognitive Function

Nutrient deficiencies affect not only physical health but also cognitive function. The brain requires specific nutrients to function optimally, and when these are lacking, cognitive decline can accelerate.

Infection: A Silent Intruder

Eczema skin infection

In advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals are more susceptible to infections due to weakened immune systems and impaired bodily functions. Infections can range from urinary tract infections to respiratory infections, posing serious risks to health.

How Do Infections Become Fatal?

Infections can be particularly dangerous for individuals with Alzheimer’s due to the compromised state of their overall health.

Spreading to Vital Organs

Infections, if not promptly treated, can spread to vital organs such as the lungs or bloodstream. This can lead to organ failure, a life-threatening complication.

Exacerbating Cognitive Decline

Infections can worsen cognitive decline in individuals with Alzheimer’s. The stress of fighting an infection can further impair brain function, hastening the progression of the disease.


In conclusion, the fatality of Alzheimer’s disease arises from a combination of factors. The absence of a cure, the progressive nature of the disease, and the indirect consequences such as dehydration, malnutrition, and infections all contribute to the challenges faced by individuals with Alzheimer’s. While research continues in the quest for effective treatments, understanding these aspects can help caregivers and families provide better support for their loved ones dealing with Alzheimer’s.

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