Lisa Mangino Swanson, Grand Forks, letter: Alzheimer’s cripples, and then it killsI read Marilyn Hagerty’s recent column and found the last sentence to be misleading (“Communication is key in understanding Alzheimer’s,” Page B1, Sept. 17).
By: Lisa Mangino Swanson,
GRAND FORKS — I read Marilyn Hagerty’s recent column and found the last sentence to be misleading (“Communication is key in understanding Alzheimer’s,” Page B1, Sept. 17).
“While people usually do not die from Alzheimer’s, she (the Alzheimer’s Association representative) said they sometimes die from related conditions such as pneumonia,” Hagerty wrote.
But Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
People most certainly do die from it.
The column covered the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s well, but it is the mid-stage and later stages of this fatal disease — yes, Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease of the brain — that people need to know about.
In the later and most severe stages of Alzheimer’s, a person will lose the ability to communicate and will need daily help with personal care such as eating, dressing, using the bathroom and so on.
They may become unable to walk without assistance, then unable to sit or hold up their head without support.
Eventually, muscles may become rigid and reflexes abnormal, and they will lose the ability to swallow and to control bladder and bowel functions.
It is because of this that many people with Alzheimer’s die from pneumonia, because impaired swallowing allows food or beverages to enter the lungs, where they can cause an infection.
In short, I think it is important for people to know that as mentioned, Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease of the brain. You WILL die from Alzheimer’s if you do not die from something else first.
People need to see and know just how devastating Alzheimer’s is; it is not simply forgetting how to balance a checkbook. For unless people realize and fully appreciate the severity of this terrible disease, Alzheimer’s will not get the attention it needs for scientists to find a cure.
Lisa Mangino Swanson