What is Alzleimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. There is no cure and is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. The symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people, and it is not a normal part of aging.

Alzheimer's 1The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles).
Plaques and tangles in the brain are two of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. The third is the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Although treatment can help manage symptoms in some people, currently there is no cure for this devastating disease.