Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain; it is currently the leading cause of dementia. Dementia, which is not a normal part of aging, refers to difficulties with memory, reasoning, judgment, behavior, and emotion that can significantly affect daily life.
Last Updated: September 27, 2023

Currently, no exact cause behind Alzheimer's disease has been identified. However, scientists have been able to identify specific changes in the brain that are linked to the disease. These changes include deposits of a protein called "beta amyloid," loss of nerve cells in important parts of the brain, and disorganized masses of protein fibers within the brain cells. Studies also show that genetics may play a part in the development of the disease; people with first-degree relatives who have Alzheimer's disease are more likely to develop the disease, compared to people with no such relatives.

Symptoms start slowly and get worse over time. They may include: • Inability to recall past as well as new persons, events, situations, and information • Difficulty in finding the right words • Difficulty in understanding what people are saying • Difficulty in performing previously routine tasks • Personality and mood changes (e.g. irritability, loss of emotional control)

To date, there is no definite cure for Alzheimer's disease. Medications given to individuals with the disease can help manage symptoms like memory loss and irritability. However, some medications that may potentially slow the progression of the disease are now being studied. The approach to management usually involves providing supportive medical care, psychosocial intervention to manage specific symptoms (e.g. disruptive behavior), and emotional support for patients and their families. Ensuring the safety of these individuals should also be a part of their holistic care.

Lifestyle changes may lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease in some people. These include: • Eating a healthy, balanced diet • Stopping cigarette smoking and limiting alcohol intake • Staying physically and mentally active • Staying at a healthy weight • Managing other conditions which may increase the risk for dementia, like high blood pressure and diabetes • Cognitive training for older adults
Last Updated: September 27, 2023