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.
Senile dementia - Alzheimer type (SDAT); SDAT; Dementia - Alzheimer
The exact cause of Alzheimer disease is not known. Research shows that certain changes in the brain lead to
You are more likely to develop Alzheimer disease if you:
The following may also increase the risk:
There are two types of Alzheimer disease:
Alzheimer disease symptoms include difficulty with many areas of mental function, including:
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:
Early symptoms of Alzheimer disease can include:
As Alzheimer disease becomes worse, symptoms are more obvious and interfere with the ability to take care of oneself. Symptoms may include:
People with severe Alzheimer disease can no longer:
Other symptoms that may occur with Alzheimer disease:
There is no cure for Alzheimer disease. The goals of treatment are:
Medicines are used to:
Before using these medicines, ask the provider:
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.
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.
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.
Call the provider if:
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:
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.
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