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Alzheimers and Dementia

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's to think clearly or perform normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. According to the Center's for Disease Control (CDC), Alzheimer's disease is the fifth leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older, and the sixth leading cause of death for all adults.

Alzheimer's starts slowing and gets worse over time. Sufferers may not recognize family members and have trouble speaking, reading, or writing. Eventually, they may become aggressive, or wander away from home. Ultimately, complete care will be needed.

Unfortunately there currently is no treatment to stop or reverse the disease. There are, however, some drugs that may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a time. Some risk factors for brain health cannot be controlled or prevented, like your age or genetics. Other risk factors, like healthy choices, are under your control. For example, you can get physically active, learn new things, or connect with your family, friends.

Signs and Symptoms

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer's or another dementia. There are warning signs and symptoms; if you notice any of them, please contact your doctor.

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Living with Alzheimer's Disease

Things you once did easily will become increasingly difficult, such as maintaining a schedule or managing money. You may already be aware of changes in your ability to complete daily tasks that once came naturally to you. Accepting changes in your abilities and adapting new coping skills can help you restore balance to your life.

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About Dementia

When diagnosing dementia doctors first assess whether a patient has an underlying treatable condition such as depression, abnormal thyroid function, normal pressure hydrocephalus, or vitamin deficiency. Early diagnosis is important, some symptoms can be treated. In most cases, the specific type of dementia cannot be confirmed until after the patient has died and the brain can be examined.

Causes of Dementia

Doctors have identified many other conditions that can cause dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare brain disorder
  • Huntington’s disease, a hereditary disorder caused by a faulty gene
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), caused by repeated traumatic brain injury
  • Subdural hematoma, bleeding between the brain’s surface and its outer covering

Caring for a Person with Dementia

Many caregivers of older adults face difficult challenges when caring for people with dementia. Everyday tasks may seem endless from arranging doctor’s appointments, to transportation, feeding, and much more. Difficult situations, such as hospitalization and making decisions about long-term care, also arise.

Read our Dementia Behavior Guide

For More Information About Types of Dementia

NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
1-800-438-4380 (toll-free)
The National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Center offers information and free print publications about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for families, caregivers, and health professionals. ADEAR Center staff answer telephone, email, and written requests and make referrals to local and national resources.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
1-800-352-9424 (toll-free)

Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration
1-866-507-7222 (toll-free)

Lewy Body Dementia Association
1-844-311-0587 (toll-free LBD Caregiver Link)

Alzheimer's Association
1-800-272-3900 (toll-free, 24/7)
1-866-403-3073 (TTY/toll-free)

National Association for Rare Disorders
1-800-999-6673 (toll-free Patient Services)