There is such a wide range of dementia and levels of severity, that the associated complications are vast. But generally speaking, and depending upon the cause of the dementia, complications may include some, none, or all of the following:

  • increased infections anywhere in the body
  • loss of ability to function or care for self
  • loss of ability to interact
  • abuse by an overstressed caregiver
  • reduced lifespan
  • side effects of medications used to treat the disorder

Alzheimer’s Disease Complications

As described by the National Library of Medicine, the complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD)—the most common form of dementia—may include the following:

  • loss of ability to function or care for self
  • bedsores, muscle contractures (loss of ability to move joints because of loss of muscle function), infection (particularly urinary tract infections and pneumonia), and other complications related to immobility during end stages of AD
  • falls and broken bones
  • loss of ability to interact
  • malnutrition and dehydration
  • failure of body systems
  • harmful or violent behavior toward self or others
  • abuse by an over-stressed caregiver

Additionally, one could argue that the progressively degenerative symptoms of AD are complications, as well. These complications may include:

  • forgetting recent events or conversations
  • difficulty performing more than one task at a time
  • difficulty solving problems
  • taking longer to perform more difficult activities
  • language problems, such as trouble finding the name of familiar objects
  • misplacing items
  • getting lost on familiar routes
  • personality changes and loss of social skills
  • losing interest in things previously enjoyed, flat mood
  • difficulty performing tasks that take some thought, but used to come easily, such as balancing a checkbook, playing complex games (such as bridge), and learning new information or routines
  • forgetting details about current events
  • forgetting events in your own life history, losing awareness of who you are
  • change in sleep patterns, often waking up at night
  • difficulty reading or writing
  • poor judgment and loss of ability to recognize danger
  • using the wrong word, mispronouncing words, speaking in confusing sentences
  • withdrawing from social contact
  • having hallucinations, arguments, striking out, and violent behavior
  • having delusions, depression, agitation
  • difficulty doing basic tasks, such as preparing meals, choosing proper clothing, and driving
  • difficulty swallowing both foods and liquids
  • suffer from incontinence

And if the AD reaches its final stages, the complications include the complete inability to:

  • recognize family members
  • understand language
  • perform any of the basic activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, going to the bathroom, and bathing