|By Mayo Clinic staff http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/ds00161
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia — the loss of intellectual and social abilities severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. In Alzheimer's disease, healthy brain tissue degenerates, causing a steady decline in memory and mental abilities.
Alzheimer's disease is not a part of normal aging, but the risk of the disorder increases with age. About 5 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 have Alzheimer's disease, while nearly half the people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer's.
Although there's no cure, treatments may improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's disease. Those with Alzheimer's — as well as those who care for them — need support and affection from friends and family to cope.
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Alzheimer’s 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. Feb 19, 2010
Alzheimer's disease is a fatal, progressive brain disorder. Scientists are making progress to better understand the underlying causes of and develop possible treatments for the disease. Until there's a cure, people with Alzheimer's can try various approaches to manage the behavioral and cognitive symptomIn 2008, Alzheimer's disease surpassed diabetes as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. This progressive, fatal brain disease that destroys memory and a person's ability to think and function normally affects over 5.2 million people. The Alzheimer's Association predicts that 10 million baby boomers will experience Alzheimer's in their lifetime. While there currently is no cure for the disease, treatments are available that may reduce or delay symptoms in some people. Medical researchers are working hard to find a cure.s. Caregivers also need to consider their own needs. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's, there are drug and non-drug treatments that may delay onset of symptoms or make people more comfortable as the disease progresses. The Alzheimer's Association suggests non-drug approaches be tried first to avoid negative side effects. People with Alzheimer's may experience emotional distress, outbursts and hallucinations as the brain cells deteriorate. Creating a calm, comfortable, structured and supportive environment relieves anxiety. Don't try to force external reality on the person with Alzheimer's---support him in the reality he experiences. Provide extra security to keep the person safe. If a health care provider feels medication would be appropriate, antidepressant or antipsychotic medication may relieve symptoms. Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine address nerve cell communication in the brain and may delay worsening of symptoms.