7 Risk Factors That Increase Dementia Deaths in Nursing Homes
Unfortunately, dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, is “one of the only top-10 cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed,” says the Alzheimer’s Association. A growing majority of these individuals depend on care provided by others to manage their daily activities, medications, financial needs, and to keep them in safe environments and reside in nursing homes.
People with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease may be elderly, frail, and naturally prone to higher personal injury rates, infection, or falls and be at a higher risk of dying contributed to several known risk factors:
- Delirium Related to Infection and Sepsis: Infections which impact nursing home residents can include urinary tract infection, diarrheal diseases, antibiotic-resistant staph infections and many others. For someone who has an infection and is also battling dementia, delirium has been associated with an increased risk of death.
- Falls: People with dementia have an increased risk of falls and hip fractures. Falls can also happen when staff are not following protocol during a transfer, whether manually or with the assistance of a lift device.
- Age: Being 85 years old or older is associated with a significantly higher risk of death from Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately 1 in 70 people aged 65-69 have dementia. Nearly 1 in 4 people aged 85-89 have dementia.
- Inability to Perform Daily Living Activities: As dementia progresses, the ability to perform daily tasks such as dressing, bathing, eating, socializing, or walking decrease. This decrease in sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of dying.
- Pressure Sores: Decubitus ulcers increase the risk of death in those living with dementia. These bed sores are one of most common and preventable injuries that occur in nursing homes and can actually serve as a serious warning signal of nursing home neglect.
- Pneumonia: Developing pneumonia poses an increased risk of death in people with dementia. Pneumonia must be treated quickly and aggressively for the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, nursing home staff does not always notice when a patient has the initial stages of the illness.
- Nursing Home Staff: Most nursing homes actually have fewer nurses and leading medical staff than they report, leaving underqualified and stressed nursing assistants and personal aides with the 24-hour tasks to keep far too many patients’ dietary, hygiene, medication, and daily living needs met. Those who require extra care, such as dementia patients, are often first neglected.
The associated medical needs for residents with dementia are also more expensive than other leading causes of death, such as heart disease, certain types of cancers, and stroke leaving far too many with extra struggles. So as our country’s population continues to grow in the number of people affected by dementia, the need for better support services and funding found within nursing home facilities will need to expand as well. Until then, family members will have to stay vigilant in protecting their loved ones.
Attorneys for Individuals & Families Affected by Dementia
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