The symptoms of late-stage dementia include severe memory loss, pronounced difficulty engaging in conversation, incontinence, marked behavior changes and severely impaired mobility, as the Alzheimer's Society describes. Patients in this phase require full-time care for even basic daily activities. Opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia, also become a more pronounced threat.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association, and of all dementia cases, Alzheimer's disease represents around 60 to 80 percent. While Alzheimer's disease primarily affects the elderly, early symptoms can manifest in individuals who are in their 40s. Once symptoms become noticeable, patients live an average of eight years before succumbing to the disease. Among its risk factors, advancing age and family history of the disease are the most prevalent, and links between head trauma, such as repeated concussions, and Alzheimer's disease are also present. Additionally, cardiovascular health can serve as an indicator of the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia, and individuals who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attacks face an increased risk of developing the condition.
Patients must undergo a comprehensive assessment before doctors make an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis, as the Alzheimer's Association explains. This includes a complete medical history, cognitive testing, physical and neurological exams, blood tests and brain imaging. Individuals who experience memory loss are not necessarily likely to suffer from dementia because depression, drug interactions, alcohol abuse, nutritional deficiencies and thyroid problems can each be responsible for loss of memory.