Alzheimer’s disease is a common condition that involves a loss of intellectual and social abilities and affects over 4 million people in the US. Most people who develop Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65 and the risk for developing the disease continues to increase with age. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and can be a troubling condition for both patients and their loved ones.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that causes the ability of memory and other brain functions to slowly decrease until a person is no longer capable of remembering, reasoning or learning. Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Persistent forgetfulness
- Difficulty communicating
- Personality changes
- Loss of judgment
- Difficulty with familiar tasks
Since the disease progresses slowly, symptoms are often gradual and may not even be noticed at first.
The cause of Alzheimer’s is not quite understood, but it is known that the disease damages and kills brain cells. The brains of those who died after having the disease tend to show abnormal clumps of brain cells known as plaques and tangles. Alzheimer’s tends to affect older people and is more common in women than men.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but several treatments are available to help manage symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Medications such as cholinesterase inhibitors and partial glutamate antagonists help protect healthy brain cells and may be used separately or together. Research is always being conducted to help develop new treatment options for Alzheimer’s patients.