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What happens if Alzheimer's is not treated?

Memory loss is just the beginning. Comorbid diseases, like depression, can occur if Alzheimer’s is not properly treated. Besides, behavioral changes and personality changes are soon to join, too. Altogether, if symptoms are left untreated they can have a significant effect on one’s quality of life. Making it especially demanding to take care of an Alzheimer’s patient. Alzheimer’s disease is fatal. There is no cure.

Only symptoms can be treated, but not the disease.

Many people associate loss of memories as the only symptom of the disease.

However, there is more to it than meets the eye.

In the following article, I will discuss what can go wrong and how proper treatment can look like.

Table of Content
Depression
Behavioral changes
Sleep-related problems
List of Resources
About the Author

Depression

Around half of all individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s experience depression during the progression of the disease. Depression is diagnosed as a comorbid disease.

It can occur after the initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Knowing that there is no cure can make any individual feel hopeless. Learned helplessness, then, leads to comorbid depression.

Besides, the realization that life comes to an end is a shock to anybody.

Possible treatment: Next to visiting a therapist and receiving cognitive behavioral therapy or another type of therapy, some medications can be prescribed. Such medications are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or short “SSRIs”.

SSRs can also help with anxiety and agitation.

However, such prescription medication can have severe side effects.

Thus, a caretaker should have a close look at any behavioral changes that are out of the norm.

A good therapist, usually explains this to family members.

Behavioral changes

It is common to observe behavioral changes. Such changes include emotional distress, aggression, and anxiety. Anxiety goes hand in hand with the fear of being abandoned or becoming a burden to society later on.

As I described in “How to talk to someone with Alzheimer’s” it is key to create an atmosphere of comfort and safety for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Have a look at the article if you are interested in solving common problematic situations with verbal techniques.

Possible treatment: Atypical antipsychotics are a common treatment for agitation and anxiety. Induced in low doses, there are options, including risperidone (Risperdal, Janssen), or olanzapine (Zyprexa, Eli Lilly), quetiapine (Seroquel, AstraZeneca).

Another safe and effective treatment option for elderly individuals is ziprasidone (Geodon, Pfizer).

Be aware that they can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death in elderly individuals.

In some cases, antidepressants are also a good alternative. New studies suggest that they are safer and as effective compared to their counterparts.

Make sure to get a proper consultancy about side effects.

Sleep-related problems

As I described in “How do you keep Alzheimer’s patients in bed?”, people with the disease spend too much time awake. Various factors can be of concern.

Next to medication not exercising during the day can be one of them.

I explained an entire list of them in my article.

However, the problem with poor sleep is that such individuals are more likely to have amyloid plaque disposits. In my “All you need to know about Alzheimer’s” guide, you can read more about what is happening in the brain.

Researchers speculate that good sleep can maybe prevent or slow down the progression of the disease. However, it still needs poof.

Possible treatment: Try treating all pains that the person might have. Even try to treat chronic pains. Another thing to do is to check for the side effects of the current medication. For example, check the side effects of antidepressants or antipsychotic medication.

Then, try to establish regular exercise like going for a morning walk. A sleeping ritual might help,

too. You can read more about it in “How do you keep Alzheimer’s patients in bed?”.

So here you have it. Now you know about what can happen if Alzheimer’s is not taken care of.

I hope you enjoyed reading this little post. See you in the next one

List of Resources

Patric Pförtner

B. Sc. Psychology

Hi, my name is Patric Pfoertner and I graduated 2020 from the NBU. Currently, I work and study in Germany. My specialisations are Cognitive Psychology paired with a good slack of Clinical Psychology. Just this year I started publishing my research in the CBB Journal. Feel free to read about it at ResearchGate. Otherwise, click the other button to read my full CV.

About Author ResearchGate

P.S.: I am available for psychological consultation, too.