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How do you die of dementia?

(61 Posts)
Draylon Mon 14-Nov-16 20:41:30

Heard tonight on TV that something like 1 in 9 deaths over the over-70s/80s/whatevers is due to dementia- but- how does dementia actually kill you?

I 'get' how cancer shuts vital organs down; how diabetes alters your blood chemistry to the point of non-functioning, and so forth, but what process in dementia actually causes you to die?

Should they say 'die with dementia'?

StealthPolarBear Mon 14-Nov-16 20:44:04

Hmm...not sure. In my grandma's case her physical health was affected by her brain damage. She died of infection but I think she wouldn't if she hadn't had dementia.
Interesting question though.

Giselaw Mon 14-Nov-16 20:44:19

It shuts down your brain, area by area. You know how our brain tells our body parts what to do without us being aware (or in control of it)? Google it.

OohhThatsMe Mon 14-Nov-16 20:45:02

I know of a way, but I wouldn't say it on here. It was an awful death.

BreakfastAtSquiffanys Mon 14-Nov-16 20:45:33

The bit of your brain that controls your cough reflex stops working, so you get pneumonia

whifflesqueak Mon 14-Nov-16 20:45:50

I think it actually shuts down things like the immune system, so combined with an inability to perform basic self care, incontinence etc I think people probably die of infections.

but I actually don't know. interesting question.

Giselaw Mon 14-Nov-16 20:46:03

Actually sorry... Dementia is a broad term, I was thinking Alzheimer's in particular

insancerre Mon 14-Nov-16 20:47:15

It stops the brain functioning normally
So your brain doesn't send the signals your body needs to live

Notinmybackyard Mon 14-Nov-16 20:48:20

If you google your question it explains that because it's a brain desease it can affect the rest of your body and can slow you down. Respiration, circulation and your immune system can be affected but it affects people differently. Interesting and scary reading.

BobbieDog Mon 14-Nov-16 20:50:33

I used to work in a residental, nursing and dementia home so you can die of dementia.

Dementia stops your body from functioning properly. It stops your brain from remembering how to walk. It stops your mouth from knowing what to do with food and drink so they eventually no longer have the ability to swallow. Many patients who have dementia and their body is slowly shutting down do end up nil by mouth at the end as they are unable to swallow.

The signals from your brain are affected when you have dementia and you slowly lose the ability to do anything.

lougle Mon 14-Nov-16 20:50:42

It's a progressive disease with a defined 'endpoint' (average expectancy is 8 years post onset) so it is classed as terminal. It gradually shuts down brain processes and people with dementia lose cognitive function. As the disease progresses they lose control of speech and swallow function, often leading to chest infections/pneumonia. It's a terribly distressing condition.

DeleteOrDecay Mon 14-Nov-16 20:50:57

I always thought it was to do with the brain gradually shutting down but by bit, but I don't know the ins and outs of it.

It sounds like an awful illnesssad

isthatmorelego Mon 14-Nov-16 20:52:12

My father forgot to eat or drink six horrific weeks took for him to die

5BlueHydrangea Mon 14-Nov-16 20:53:20

Depends partly on the type of dementia. Vascular dementia has progressive involvement of various blood vessels so areas get shut down. Sometimes the brain effectively shrinks so different functioning areas get compressed and slowly stop working that way.
On a different note, awareness of safety diminishes. I have a relative with vascular dementia who smokes and has caused 2 small fires at home which he is oblivious to - thankfully his wife was there to prevent disaster.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 14-Nov-16 20:59:12

It sounds horrific sad Is it really ethical to keep someone alive under those sort if conditions?

KingJoffreysRestingCuntface Mon 14-Nov-16 21:02:39

Brain shuts down.

Also you can forget how to chew and swallow so get thinner a frailer. Forgetting how to use the toilet leads to incontinence which leads to damp skin and possible sores/infections.

Also forgetting to take medication.

Basically a combination of things.

LuluJakey1 Mon 14-Nov-16 21:03:57

My great aunt died of it. Gradually she just stopped being able to do anything. The consultant said her brain was just losing the ability gradually as it was increasingly affected, to send the signals to the various parts of her body. So she stopped being able to speak, move her legs, to stand up, be continent, to feed herself, and eventually to chew and swallow and breathe. Her mind had been lost years before. It was very sad.

Boygirlmummy Mon 14-Nov-16 21:05:13

I was told that it is because you forget how to swallow so you either starve to death or choke on food. Sorry to say it so bluntly and I can't guarantee the authenticity of this; I'm sure there are other more accurate reasons.

KingJoffreysRestingCuntface Mon 14-Nov-16 21:05:51

And echoing what lougle said.

They can be ill for ages but a chest infection is very often what kills them. I have had a chest infection, they're pretty savage. If you're weak and frail it can easily spell the end.

StealthPolarBear Mon 14-Nov-16 21:06:13

No fine sad
My grandma spent a few years unable to speak and incontinent. That said they were better than the previous few years where she was paranoid and full of rage and self loathing. Oh and used to go off in tbe middle of the night.
awful disease.

StealthPolarBear Mon 14-Nov-16 21:07:28

Oh and I went to see her when she was still living in her home (so a good few years before she died) and she pointed at a picture of me and said that was the girl that used to come and see her. So she thought she'd been abandoned by her loved ones as well.

MrsJayy Mon 14-Nov-16 21:09:37

Dementia illnesses are horrific to watch somebody slowly die is heartbreaking my nan died of pneumonia but it was her dementia that caused it sad

Mum2jenny Mon 14-Nov-16 21:11:52

Probably cos you can't put 'died of old age' on the death certificate.

JustHereForThePooStories Mon 14-Nov-16 21:16:40

My MIL is still with us, barely. She has Alzheimer's and is now doubly-incontinent which leads to kidney infections, has no cough reaction which causes chest infections and pneumonia, can no longer walk, or speak. She has to be spoon-fed and even watered-down yogurt is difficult for her to swallow. Poor woman is having an awful time. I expect she'll probably choke at some stage, or a bout of pneumonia that she can't fight.

It's a horrific disease.

With my MIL, I often wonder if she could have cancer or another illness and we don't know because she can't feel the symptoms.

Helenluvsrob Mon 14-Nov-16 21:18:33

Dad deteriorated fairly fast over about 3-4 months. Lost residual mobility , ability to feed self or manage a cup. Speech had been going / gone for a while.

Eventually lost breathing control and forgot to breathe and died.

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