Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and other important mental functions. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50 - 70% of approximately 44 million dementia cases worldwide in 2015. Most people affected by Alzheimer's disease do not show any symptoms until after 65 years of age. This is known as late-onset Alzheimer's disease and occurs in more than 90% of cases. The rare early-onset Alzhimer's cases often cluster within families and symptoms appear before 65 years of age.
Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease, and the initial changes in the brain occur long before any visible symptoms are observed. Two abnormal protein accumulations (amyloid plaques and tau tangles) form in the brains of affected patients. The plaques prevent the normal connections and communication between the billions of neurons in the brain, while the tau tangles disrupt the normal movement of nutrients and other essential supplies within each neuron. These abnormalities lead to cell death and brain shrinkage, and eventually patients begin to show outward signs of Alzheimer's disease.
- Memory loss
- Misplacing items
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulties performing familiar tasks
- Poor judgment
- Personality changes
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble recognizing family and friends
- Unable to learn new things
- Distressed in new environments
- Unable to communicate
- Rely of others for everyday care
- Body shuts down
- Death from general inanition, malnutrition or pneumonia