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More About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects an individual’s memory, behavior, and thinking. The onset of the disease is usually rather slow. It worsens over time causing the individual to have difficulty with activities of daily living.

Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a loss of memory and the loss of intellectual abilities that become so severe that the person can't participate in activities of daily living. About 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases are due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Some important facts about Alzheimer’s disease include the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process. The most common known risk factor for the disease is increasing age, and the majority of people with the disease are 65 or older. But it's not just a disease of old age. About 5 percent of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease begin to develop their symptoms in their 40s. This is called younger-onset or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease generally gets worse over time. Alzheimer’s disease is considered progressive, meaning that the symptoms gradually worsen over time. Symptoms usually become worse over several years. Memory loss is one of the first symptoms of the disease. In the later stages, the individual is unable to respond to events around them. They lose the ability to speak or maintain a normal conversation, even with loved ones. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th most common cause of death in the US. People with Alzheimer’s disease generally live about 8 years after they begin to have noticeable symptoms. However, some people can survive from 20 years, depending on whether or not they have  coexisting health problems.
  • There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. While no cure exists, there are medical treatments available that can treat the symptoms of the disease. Research for a cure is ongoing. While the available treatments for Alzheimer’s disease can’t stop the progression of the disease, they can slow the symptoms of dementia, at least temporarily. The available treatments have been found to enhance the quality of life for those who suffer from the disease and to help caregivers better care for the Alzheimer’s patient. There is an effort throughout the world to do research to find better ways to manage the disease, and to prevent the disease from developing in the first place.
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