Alzheimer disease is a type of dementia. It leads to problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It starts slowly and gets worse over time. Alzheimer dementia is when the disease makes it hard for people to take care of themselves.
The exact cause is not known. Genetics may play a role.
It is more common in people who are 65 and older. It is also more common in people who have other families members who have it. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Lifestyle habits that may raise the risk are:
Symptoms start slowly and get worse over time. They may be:
There are no tests to confirm the disease. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. A cognitive exam will also be done. Blood tests will be done to rule out problems.
Images may be taken of the brain. This can be done with:
Some people may need more testing based on their symptoms.
There is no cure. The goal of most care is support and safety. Care facilities can help to ease stress on caretakers. Day programs or home care offer support while the person lives at home. A full-time care facility may be needed if home is no longer safe or healthy place for them and others. Someone with later stage dementia can need around the clock care. They can wander at any points of the day, get lost, or get into danger. Changes in emotional control and anxiety may also be hard to manage at home. Some facilities specialize in care for people with dementia. Other treatment steps may include:
Some medicine may help to slow the disease. Current medicine includes:
Other treatments may help to manage the effect of Alzheimers for a time. These may be:
Healthy habits may lower the risk of Alzheimer disease in some people. This means:
National Institute on Aging
Alzheimer Society Canada
Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alzheimer-dementia. Accessed October 18, 2020.
Atri A. The Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Spectrum: Diagnosis and Management. Med Clin North Am. 2019 Mar;103(2):263-293.
Treatment of Alzheimer's disease. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-medications-fact-sheet. Accessed October 18, 2020.
9/3/2014 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia: Wippold FJ, Brown DC, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for dementia and movement disorders. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/ACR/Documents/AppCriteria/Diagnostic/DementiaAndMovementDisorders.pdf. Updated 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.
10/17/2016 DynaMed 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 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 10/11/2020