What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer’s (ALZ-hi-merz) disease (AD) develops slowly, but it inevitably destroys a person’s memory, thinking and language skills, and the ability to accomplish simple tasks. People with late-stage AD cannot carry on a conversation or respond to their environment in any meaningful way.
The cause of most AD is not known, there is no cure, and dementia is not reversible. Some medications can slow symptoms from progressing. AD is a progressive disease, with symptoms getting worse with time, including the ability to live independently.
Eventually, AD is fatal. It’s the sixth leading cause of death, but the third leading cause of death for older people. AD patients live an average of four to eight years after diagnosis, but some can live as long as 20 years with the disease. Although AD is not part of the normal aging process, most AD patients are older. This is called late-onset AD. Early onset AD begins before the age of 65, even affecting people as young as 30s or 40s.
Is Alzheimer’s disease the same as dementia?
Dementia is a more general term for the loss of ability to think, remember and reason (cognitive function) to the extent that it limits daily life and activities. Dementia ranges from mild symptoms at the beginning of the disease, to complete dependence on others to provide basic activities of daily living. Many diseases have dementia as a symptom, including AD, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal disorders. However, AD causes 60-80% of dementia.