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Learning the disease

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease. It can change the way someone remembers things. It can also affect the way people act during the day. Alzheimer’s can start to develop 20 years or more before they show symptoms. Researchers are looking for a cure.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Most people who have dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease are 65 or older. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.

Nerve cells in the brain can control the way a person thinks, learns, and remembers. Alzheimer’s disease happens when nerve cells in the brain get damaged. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can make a person forget some things or have trouble talking. These symptoms can start to show after the brain has been changing for years. A person can have these same symptoms for years. They get worse as the years pass.

These symptoms will start to get in the way of how a person does everyday things, like brushing their teeth or talking to people.

The nerve cells become damaged in different parts of the brain. As this happens, the brain can't tell the body how to do certain things like walking or swallowing. This is when Alzheimer's is severe. People with severe Alzheimer's need help around the clock.

How is Alzheimer's disease different than dementia?

Image of holding hands

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same.

Alzheimer’s is the name for a disease caused by changes that happen in the brain. These changes lead to dementia.

Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms. These symptoms change the way the brain works. Other types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular dementia. It can also be caused by Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, posterior cortical atrophy, and Korsakoff syndrome.

Up to 80% of people who have dementia have Alzheimer’s disease.

Some symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease are the same. They include having trouble with thinking, memory, and talking.

There are some symptoms only happen with Alzheimer's disease. Someone with Alzheimer's may get sad, confused, and not care about things the way they used to. This may make them act differently. They may not be able to make good decisions. They may have trouble with walking, talking, and swallowing.

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of the brain that progresses over time and affects memory and activities of daily living. Studies show that Alzheimer’s disease can begin decades before symptoms begin to show. Researchers are working hard to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Most people diagnosed with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease are 65 or older. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.

Memory loss, speech problems, and other signs of Alzheimer’s disease only begin to show after years of changes in the brain. Nerve cells called "neurons" that are involved in the way the brain works, including thinking, learning, and memory become damaged or destroyed. People with Alzheimer’s disease can show symptoms for years. Over time, the symptoms will progress.

These symptoms eventually begin to affect the way people carry out their daily tasks.

As neurons in different parts of the brain are damaged, the body starts to work differently. Things like walking and swallowing get harder. People with advanced Alzheimer’s dementia usually need caregivers around the clock to help with these activities.

How is Alzheimer's disease different than dementia?

Image of holding hands

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are related, but they are not the same.

Alzheimer’s is the name for a disease caused by certain changes in the brain. These changes lead to dementia.

Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms that change the way the brain works. Other types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular dementia. It can also be caused by Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, posterior cortical atrophy, and Korsakoff syndrome.

Up to 80% of all diagnosed dementia cases are Alzheimer’s disease.

Some symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease overlap. They include having trouble with thinking, memory, and talking.

There are some symptoms only happen with Alzheimer's disease. Someone with Alzheimer's may get depressed, indifferent, disoriented, and confused. They may not be able to make good decisions and may start to act differently. They may have trouble with walking, speaking, and swallowing.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease that affects memory and activities of daily living. Studies indicate that Alzheimer’s can begin decades before symptoms begin to show. Researchers are working tirelessly to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Most people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia are 65 or older, though it is not a normal part of aging.

Memory loss, speech problems, and other noticeable symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to show after years of changes in the brain. Neurons (nerve cells) involved in cognitive function, including thinking, learning, and memory, become damaged or destroyed. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can show symptoms for years, and over time the symptoms will progress.

Eventually, these symptoms begin to interfere with the way people carry out their daily tasks.

As neurons in other parts of the brain become damaged or destroyed, other body functions such as walking and swallowing are affected. Those with advanced Alzheimer’s dementia tend to need caregivers around the clock to help with these activities.

How is Alzheimer's disease different than dementia?

Image of holding hands

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are closely related, but they are not the same.

Alzheimer’s is the name for a disease caused by certain changes in the brain. These changes lead to dementia.

Dementia is the umbrella term used for a group of symptoms that change cognitive functioning. Other types of dementia include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular dementia. It can also be caused by Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, posterior cortical atrophy, and Korsakoff syndrome.

Up to 80% of all diagnosed dementia cases are Alzheimer’s disease.

Some symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease overlap. They include difficulty with thought, memory recall, and communication.

Some symptoms are specific to Alzheimer's disease. Someone with Alzheimer's may become depressed, indifferent, disoriented, and confused. They may exercise bad judgment and experience behavioral changes. They may have trouble with walking, speaking, and swallowing.

NEXT: Who gets Alzheimer's disease?

References: 1. Alzheimer’s Association. 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimers Dement. 2019;15(3):321-387. 2. Dementia vs. Alzheimer's Disease: What Is the Difference? Alzheimer's Association. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/difference-between-dementia-and-alzheimer-s. Accessed September 18, 2019. 3. Alzheimer's & Dementia. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/alzheimers-and-dementia. Accessed September 20, 2019.