Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly and is the fourth leading cause of death in developed nations (after heart disease, cancer, and stroke).
Up to 70% of dementia cases are due to Alzheimer’s disease, with blood vessel disease (stroke, atherosclerosis) being the second most common cause.
The frequency of Alzheimer’s among 60-year-olds is about 1%. The incidence doubles approximately every 5 years becoming 2% at age 65, 4% at 70, 8% at 75, 16% at 80, and 32% at 85.
It is estimated that as many as two thirds of those in their 90s suffer from some form of dementia. For those who aspire to live a very long life, dementia is a threat second only to death — or is death in another form.
Alzheimer’s disease is incurable. It leads to death within an average of 8 years after diagnosis, the last 3 of which are typically spent in an institution.
Besides memory loss, Alzheimer’s patients show dramatic personality changes, disorientation, declining physical coordination, and an inability to care for themselves.
In the final stages, victims are bedridden, lose urinary and bowel control, and suffer epileptic attacks. Death is usually due to pneumonia or urinary tract infection.
Source: Life Extension Foundation 1998-1999