Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, reasoning, behavior and motor skills. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s slowly worsen over time, and the disease is ultimately fatal.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, which is defined as a loss of cognitive functioning and behavioral abilities that interferes with daily life. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal dementia. Each of these diseases has its own set of specific symptoms.
Risk for Alzheimer’s increases greatly with age. After reaching 65, one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles roughly every five years, reaching almost fifty percent by age 85. When the disease begins before the age of 65, it is known as early-onset or younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
Right now, Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure. Current medications only help to lessen symptoms of the disease, providing temporary and partial relief but having no real effect on cognitive decline.
In addition to the emotional burden placed on patients and caregivers, Alzheimer’s places enormous financial strain on families and healthcare systems.