Alzheimer's disease is a disease that affects the brain and nervous system. It happens when nerve cells in the brain die. The disease gets worse over time. It is a type of dementia.
Alzheimer's disease often causes:
The disease does not affect a person’s movement. He or she can still get around normally.
Doctors do not know what causes Alzheimer disease. They think it might be caused by one or more of these:
The following are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer disease. But not everyone has all of these symptoms. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of Alzheimer disease may look like other health conditions or problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
No single test can diagnose Alzheimer disease. A healthcare provider will first rule out other conditions. But the only way to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease is to examine the brain after death. An autopsy can show changes in the brain that mark the disease.
It’s important to find out if the dementia is caused by an illness that can be treated. A healthcare provider will do thorough exams of the person’s nervous system. The provider may also do:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
At this time, Alzheimer disease has no cure. There is no way of slowing down the progression of this disease, and no treatment is available to reverse the changes that the disease brings on. But new research findings give reason for hope. Several medicines are being studied in clinical trials to see if they can slow the progress of the disease or improve memory for a period of time.
Some medicines are available to help manage some of the most troubling symptoms of Alzheimer disease. These symptoms include:
Exercise and social activities are important to help manage the disease. So are good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and a calm and well-structured environment.
Because doctors don’t know what causes the disease, they can’t recommend any steps to prevent it.
Alzheimer disease is a progressive disease. This means that memory problems and problems with doing daily tasks gradually get worse. Each person is affected differently, but people with Alzheimer disease have mood and behavior problems that make it difficult for family members to care for them. As a person is less able to care for himself or herself, families or others must help with personal care, meals, and daily activities. People with advanced Alzheimer disease will most likely need to stay in a place that specializes in care of people with memory disorders.
Care programs for people with Alzheimer disease differ depending on the symptoms a person has and how far along the disease is. These programs can help a person and his or her family manage the disease.
Any skills lost will not be regained, but the following tips can help people and families living with Alzheimer disease:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider: