|CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368|
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Alzheimer disease is a disorder of the brain. It leads to a loss of the ability to think, reason, and remember. It worsens over time and will lead to severe impairment. Alzheimer dementia is when the disorder has made it impossible for people to care for themselves.
For reasons that are not yet clear, brain cells stop working well and begin to die. It may be due to a complex mix of genes, environment, and overall health. Two known factors that play a role include:
These changes often begin in areas of the brain that store memory. This damage may start several years before the first symptoms appear.
Risk Factors TOP
There are a number of factors that my increase your risk for Alzheimer . Some factors cannot be changed such as:
Medical or health conditions that can increase your risk include:
Lifestyle factors that may increase risk include:
General symptoms include a gradual decline in :
There are no signs in the earliest stages. At this point there are changes in the brain but not enough to cause signs or symptoms. The speed of progression will vary from person to person but can happen over several years.
Mild Disease (also called early-stage) signs include:
Moderate disease signs include:
Severe disease (late-stage) signs may include:
There are no tests to confirm Alzheimer. Instead, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Tests will help to rule out other issues that can cause dementia. These may include:
The doctor may need images of the brain. It will show how much damage has occurred. This can be done with:
There is no cure for Alzheimer disease. The goal of most care is support and safety. Options include:
Manage Symptom and Disease Progression
Medicine may help to slow the disease progress in some. Options that may reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer disease include:
Certain steps and changes may help to improve the quality of life. Options will depend on individual needs but may include:
Psychiatric Medication TOP
Mental health issues are common. They can have a large impact on quality of life. Medicine may help to manage mental health problems such as:
Caregiver Support TOP
People with Alzheimer will need care all day and night. It can be a very difficult task for the caregiver. They will need support, rest, and regular breaks. Some steps that may help include:
There are no known ways to prevent Alzheimer disease. However, the following factors may reduce your risk of Alzheimer disease:
National Institute on Aging
Alzheimer Society Canada
Albanese E, Dangour AD, Uauy R, et al. Dietary fish and meat intake and dementia in Latin America, China, and India: A 10/66 Dementia Research Group population-based study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(2):392-400.
Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia. Updated August 21, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Treatment of Alzheimer's disease. National Institute on Aging website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed October 2, 2017.
Anstey KJ, Mack HA, Cherbuin N. Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: Meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009;17(7):542-555.
Carillo MC, Blackwell A, Hampel H, et al. Early risk assessment for Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2009;5(2):182-196.
Deweerdt S. Prevention: Activity is the best medicine. Nature. 2011;475(7355):S16-S17.
Gidoni R, Benussi L, Paterlini A, Albertini V, Binetti G, Emanuele E. Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease: The present and the future. Neurodegen Dis. 2011;8(6):413-420.
Green RC, Cupples LA, Go R, et al. Risk of dementia among white and African-American relatives of patients with Alzheimer disease. JAMA. 2002;287(3):329-336.
Hampel H, Frank R, Broich K, et al. Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease: Academic, industry, and regulatory perspectives. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2010;9(7):560-574.
Hayden KM, Welsh-Bohmer KA. Epidemiology of cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease: Contributions of the Cache County Utah study of memory, health, and aging. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2012;10:3-31.
Neugroschl J, Sano M. An update on treatment and prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2009;9(5):368-376.
Ruitenberg A, van Swieten JC, Wittemen JC, et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of dementia: The Rotterdam Study. Lancet. 2002;359(9303):281-286.
1/8/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Snitz BE, O'Meara ES, et al. Ginkgo biloba for preventing cognitive decline in older adults: A randomized trial. JAMA. 2009;302(24):2663-2670.
5/4/2012 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Buchman AS, Boyle PA, et al. Total daily physical activity and the risk of AD and cognitive decline in older adults. Neurology. 2012;78(17):1323-1329.
9/3/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Wippold FJ, Brown DC, Broderick DF, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for dementia and movement disorders. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.
10/17/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Arvanitakis Z, Capuano AW, et al. Relation of cerebral vessel disease to Alzheimer's disease dementia and cognitive function in elderly people: a cross-sectional study. Lancet Neurol. 2016 Aug;15(9):934-943.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 5/7/2018
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.