Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of mental decline, or dementia.
Alzheimer's disease damages the brain. It causes a steady loss of memory and of how well you can speak, think and carry on daily activities.
It always gets worse over time, but how quickly this happens varies. Some people lose the ability to do daily activities early on, while others may still do fairly well until much later in the disease.
Mild memory loss is common in people older than 60. It may not mean that you have Alzheimer's disease. But if your memory is getting worse, see your doctor. If it is Alzheimer's, treatment may help.
We don’t fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers believe age, family history, certain genes, abnormal proteins in the brain, environmental factors, immune system issues and infections may play a role.
No single test can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, so your doctor will use a series of tests to rule out other conditions. If your doctor determines you have Alzheimer’s disease, she’ll prescribe treatments that may help ease some of your symptoms.
If you have Alzheimer’s, it’s important to stay healthy. Eat well, exercise and participate in social activities. Make sure to keep up with healthcare appointments and to continue to manage any other health conditions you may have, such as diabetes or heart disease.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease can be stressful and overwhelming. This information, plus support groups and classes in your area, can help.