This excellent 3-minute video will help you understand how Alzheimer’s affects your loved one — how the disease progresses through its various stages, how it damages the brain and how it affects behavior.
Since late 2013, I’ve seen quite a few articles that proclaim something like:
These articles usually cite the Alzheimer’s Association as the source; but, the Alzheimer’s Association never said this. Unfortunately, this kind of inaccurate reporting needlessly increases public anxiety about a topic — Alzheimer’s — that many seniors already worry about.
Beginning in 2013, what the Alzheimer’s Association actually says in their annual report, “Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” is:
or another dementia“
The Alzheimer’s Association also said in that same report:
At this point, you may well be thinking, “OK, but aren’t you just nitpicking?”
No, for 3 reasons.
First, when the phrase “died from Alzheimer’s” is used, that means the primary cause of death was Alzheimer’s. However, when the phrase “died with Alzheimer’s” is used, that simply means this group of people had the biological markers(1) for Alzheimer’s in their brain when they died, but probably died from some other cause.
Second, using the same statistical reference(2) used by the Alzheimer’s Association in their annual report, 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, confirms their statement that “it is the fifth-leading cause of death for those age 65 and older.” However, to keep that in perspective, the number of people who die as a result of all forms of heart disease, including heart attacks, is five times greater than the number of people who die from Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
Third, again using the same statistical reference(2), demonstrates that only …
(1) Many seniors die with the same amount of plaques and tangles in their brains that cause Alzheimer’s in other people, but never have any signs or symptoms of the disease. As of this writing, scientists are still at a loss to explain this mystery.
(2) Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD. Deaths: Final data for 2010. National Vital Statistics Reports; Vol. 61, No 4. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; 2013. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf.