Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder. It can cause problems with thinking, memory loss and speaking. It is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases. Scientists do not know the cause. With Alzheimer's disease:
- Nerve cells in the brain die.
- The brain has difficulty sending and receiving messages.
In the US:
- About 5.2 million people have Alzheimer's disease.
- Every 71 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer's.
- 10 million baby boomers will develop the disease.
Alzheimer's disease isn't a normal part of aging, but the risk increases with age.
- It usually begins after age 60.
- About 5% of people ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer's.
- Almost 50% of people age 85 and older may have it.
- It is more likely to occur in women. This might be because women live longer than men.
People with Alzheimer's are more likely to enjoy quality of life if they get the care they need, including:
- Using available treatment for Alzheimer's disease
- Managing other health conditions
- Taking part in services such as counseling, activity and support groups and adult day programs
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease. Certain drugs may prevent symptoms from getting worse for a short time.
National Institute on Aging. Alzheimer's disease fact sheet. Accessed August 11, 2008. Available at www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/adfact.htm.
Alzheimer's Association. 2008 Alzheimer's Disease facts and figures. Accessed August 12, 2008. Available at www.alz.org/national/documents/report_alzfactsfigures2008.pdf.