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Alzheimer's disease is the most common

form of dementia among older people.


Dementia is a brain disorder that
seriously affects a person's ability to carry
out daily activities. AD begins slowly. It
first involves the parts of the brain that
control thought, memory and language.

Over time, symptoms get worse. Not


recognize family members or have
trouble speaking, reading or writing. They
may forget how to brush their teeth or
comb their hair. Later on, they may
become

anxious

or

aggressive,

wander away from home.

or

You are more likely to get AD if you:


Are older. But developing AD is not a part of
normal aging.
Have a close relative, such as a brother, sister, or
parent, with AD.
Have certain genes linked to AD.

The following may also increase the risk:


Being female
Having heart and blood vessel problems due to,
for example, high cholesterol
History of head trauma

There are two types of AD:

Early onset AD: Symptoms appear before age 60.


This type is much less common than late onset. It
tends to get worse quickly. Early onset disease
can run in families. Several genes have been
identified.

Late onset AD: This is the most common type. It


occurs in people age 60 and older. It may run in
some families, but the role of genes is less clear.

AD symptoms include difficulty with many areas of


mental function, including:
1.

Neuronal degeneration

2.

Emotional behavior or personality

3.

Thinking and judgment (cognitive skills)

4.

Language and Memory

5.

Memory loss

6.

Perception

A skilled health care provider can often diagnose


AD with the following steps:
Complete physical exam, including nervous

system exam
Asking about the person's medical history and

symptoms
Mental

function

examination)

tests

(mental

status

A diagnosis of AD is made when certain symptoms


are present, and by making sure other causes of
dementia are not present.
CT or MRI of the brain may be done to look for other
causes of dementia, such as a brain tumor or stroke.
The only way to know for certain that someone has
AD is to examine a sample of their brain tissue after
death.

Medicines are used to:


Slow the rate at which symptoms
worsen, though benefit with these drugs
may be small
Control problems with behavior, such as
loss of judgment or confusion

There is no cure for AD. The goals of treatment are:

Slow the progression of the disease (although this


is difficult to do) Manage symptoms, such as
behavior problems, confusion, and sleep problems

Change the home environment to make daily


activities easier

Support family members and other caregivers

Although there is no proven way to prevent AD,


there are some measures that may help prevent
or slow the onset of Alzheimer disease.
These include keeping a low-fat diet and eating
foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Getting
physical exercise and staying mentally and
socially active also seem to help.