Learn About Alzheimer's Disease

What is the definition of Alzheimer's Disease?

Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.

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What are the alternative names for Alzheimer's Disease?

Senile dementia - Alzheimer type (SDAT); SDAT; Dementia - Alzheimer

What are the causes of Alzheimer's Disease?

The exact cause of Alzheimer disease is not known. Research shows that certain changes in the brain lead toAlzheimer disease.

You are more likely to develop Alzheimer disease if you:

  • Are older -- Developing Alzheimer disease is not a part of normal aging.
  • Have a close relative, such as a brother, sister, or parent with Alzheimer disease.
  • Have certain genes linked to Alzheimer disease.
Alzheimer disease

The following may also increase the risk:

  • Being female
  • Having heart and blood vessel problems due to high cholesterol
  • History of head trauma

There are two types of Alzheimer disease:

  • Early onset Alzheimer disease -- Symptoms appear before age 60. This type is much less common than late onset. It tends to get worse quickly. Early onset disease can run in families. Several genes have been identified.
  • Late onset Alzheimer disease -- This is the most common type. It occurs in people age 60 and older. It may run in some families, but the role of genes is less clear.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer disease symptoms include difficulty with many areas of mental function, including:

  • Emotional behavior or personality
  • Language
  • Memory
  • Perception
  • Thinking and judgment (cognitive skills)

Alzheimer disease usually first appears as forgetfulness.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage between normal forgetfulness due to aging, and the development of Alzheimer disease. People with MCI have mild problems with thinking and memory that do not interfere with daily activities. They are often aware of the forgetfulness. Not everyone with MCI develops Alzheimer disease.

Symptoms of MCI include:

  • Difficulty performing more than one task at a time
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Forgetting recent events or conversations
  • Taking longer to perform more difficult activities

Early symptoms of Alzheimer disease can include:

  • Difficulty performing tasks that take some thought, but used to come easily, such as balancing a checkbook, playing complex games (bridge), and learning new information or routines
  • Getting lost on familiar routes
  • Language problems, such as trouble remembering the names of familiar objects
  • Losing interest in things previously enjoyed and being in a flat mood
  • Misplacing items
  • Personality changes and loss of social skills

As Alzheimer disease becomes worse, symptoms are more obvious and interfere with the ability to take care of oneself. Symptoms may include:

  • Change in sleep patterns, often waking up at night
  • Delusions, depression, and agitation
  • Difficulty doing basic tasks, such as preparing meals, choosing proper clothing, and driving
  • Difficulty reading or writing
  • Forgetting details about current events
  • Forgetting events in one's life history and losing self-awareness
  • Hallucinations, arguments, striking out, and violent behavior
  • Poor judgment and loss of ability to recognize danger
  • Using the wrong word, mispronouncing words, or speaking in confusing sentences
  • Withdrawing from social contact

People with severe Alzheimer disease can no longer:

  • Recognize family members
  • Perform basic activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing
  • Understand language

Other symptoms that may occur with Alzheimer disease:

  • Problems controlling bowel movements or urine
  • Swallowing problems
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What are the current treatments for Alzheimer's Disease?

There is no cure for Alzheimer disease. The goals of treatment are:

  • Slow the progression of the disease (although this is difficult to do)
  • Manage symptoms, such as behavior problems, confusion, and sleep problems
  • Change the home environment to make daily activities easier
  • Support family members and other caregivers

Medicines are used to:

  • Slow the rate at which symptoms worsen, though the benefit from using these drugs may be small
  • Control problems with behavior, such as loss of judgment or confusion

Before using these medicines, ask the provider:

  • What are the side effects? Is the medicine worth the risk?
  • When is the best time, if any, to use these medicines?
  • Do medicines for other health problems need to be changed or stopped?

Someone with Alzheimer disease will need support in the home as the disease gets worse. Family members or other caregivers can help by helping the person cope with memory loss and behavior and sleep problems. It is important to make sure the home of a person who has Alzheimer disease is safe for them.

Who are the top Alzheimer's Disease Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
11
conditions

University Of Rostock

Rostock, MV, DE 

Stefan Teipel is in Rostock, Germany. Teipel is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. He is also highly rated in 11 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Developmental Dysphasia Familial, and Memory Loss.

Elite
Highly rated in
25
conditions
Neurology

Mayo Clinic

Rochester, Minnesota

200 1st St Sw 
Rochester, MN 55905

Ronald Petersen is a Neurologist in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Petersen has been practicing medicine for over 42 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. He is also highly rated in 25 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, and Memory Loss. He is licensed to treat patients in Minnesota. Dr. Petersen is currently accepting new patients.

 
 
 
 
Learn about our expert tiers
Learn more
Elite
Highly rated in
27
conditions
Neurology

Mayo Clinic

Rochester, Minnesota

200 1st St Sw 
Rochester, MN 55905

David Knopman is a Neurologist in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Knopman has been practicing medicine for over 47 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. He is also highly rated in 27 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and Frontotemporal Dementia. He is licensed to treat patients in Minnesota. Dr. Knopman is currently accepting new patients.

What are the support groups for Alzheimer's Disease?

Having Alzheimer disease or caring for a person with the condition may be a challenge. You can ease the stress of illness by seeking support through Alzheimer disease resources. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Alzheimer's Disease?

How quickly Alzheimer disease gets worse is different for each person. If Alzheimer disease develops quickly, it is more likely to worsen quickly.

People with Alzheimer disease often die earlier than normal, although a person may live anywhere from 3 to 20 years after diagnosis.

Families will likely need to plan for their loved one's future care.

The final phase of the disease may last from a few months to several years. During that time, the person becomes totally disabled. Death usually occurs from an infection or organ failure.

When should I contact a medical professional for Alzheimer's Disease?

Contact the provider if:

  • Alzheimer disease symptoms develop or a person has a sudden change in mental status
  • The condition of a person with Alzheimer disease gets worse
  • You are unable to care for a person with Alzheimer disease at home
How do I prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Although there is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer disease, there are some measures that may help prevent or slow the onset of Alzheimer disease:

  • Stay on a low-fat diet and eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Stay mentally and socially active.
  • Wear a helmet during risky activities to prevent brain injury.
What are the latest Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials?
Amyloid and Glucose PET Imaging in Alzheimer and Vascular Cognitive Impairment Patients With Significant White Matter Disease
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Effect of Exercise, Endocannabinoids and Ketones on Cerebral Metabolism in a Cognitive Disorders Population : Pilot Project PARKA
What are the Latest Advances for Alzheimer's Disease?
Beneficial Effects of Capsaicin in Disorders of the Central Nervous System.
Influences of Vitamin B12 Supplementation on Cognition and Homocysteine in Patients with Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Cognitive Impairment.
Tired of the same old research?
Check Latest Advances
The Potential Effects of a Compounded Methylcobalamin Nasal Spray on Short-term Memory Loss After Intracranial Hemorrhage: A Case Report.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : February 04, 2020
Published By : Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 09/28/2021.

What are the references for this article ?

Alzheimer's Association website. Press release: First practice guidelines for clinical evaluation of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias for primary and specialty care. www.alz.org/aaic/releases_2018/AAIC18-Sun-clinical-practice-guidelines.asp. Updated July 22, 2018. Accessed April 16, 2020.

Knopman DS. Cognitive impairment and dementia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 374.

Martínez G, Vernooij RW, Fuentes Padilla P, Zamora J, Bonfill Cosp X, Flicker L. 18F PET with florbetapir for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease dementia and other dementias in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;11(11):CD012216. PMID: 29164603 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29164603/.

Peterson R, Graff-Radford J. Alzheimer disease and other dementias. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 95.