What is Alzheimer's Disease?

By  , Expert Content
Feb 23, 2012

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of mental decline, or dementia among older people.  People with dementia as a result of Alzheimer's disease can have problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. The symptoms develop slowly and worsen as the disease progresses and can become severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder in which the brain cells degenerate and die, causing a steady decline in memory and mental function. AD begins gradually and the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language are affected initially. So a person with AD has difficulty in remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. As AD progresses, the symptoms worsen and the person may fail to recognise family members, can have trouble doing ordinary things such as speaking, reading or writing, and doing everyday tasks such as brushing their teeth or combing  their hair.

In the later stages of the disease, the person may become anxious or aggressive, and even wander away from home. Most patients need total care eventually. AD can cause great stress for the family members of the affected person.

AD is primarily a disease of the older adults and usually begins after the age of 60, but it can even affect younger individuals (about 40 years). The risk of getting AD increases as you get older. Currently there is no treatment that can cure AD. Some drugs may help to prevent the worsening of symptoms for some time.


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