What is Alzheimer’s disease?

The basics about Alzheimer’s disease

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells (neurons) resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.


Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.

Dementia is a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.


Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.

Although it is true that increasing age is associated with increased rates of the disease development, Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age.  Individuals in their 40s and 50s can also develop dementia.


Alzheimer’s worsens over time.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.  Alzheimer’s disease kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined.  At the time of death, one of three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.


There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Since there is no known cure or treatment for this disease, it is important to use the right approach to care.  The right approach can slow the worsening of symptoms and improve the quality of life of those living with dementia.


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