Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906 was the first to described Alzheimer's disease (AD). Millions of people have been diagnosed with the disease ever since. Alzheimer's disease (pronounced Alz'-hi-merz) is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Alzheimer's disease occur in younger adults?
Yes, though less frequently. The disease can occur in people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, however, most people diagnosed with Alzheimer's are older than 65. The early onset form of the disease that strikes younger people accounts for less than 10 percent of all reported cases and is considered quite rare. Scientists believe this variation of the disease may be genetically transmitted across multiple generations of the same family.
Does Alzheimer's disease run in families?
The evidence is not clear. Cases where several members of a single family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's is rare (except in families who have a history of early onset Alzheimer's, a form of the disease that typically strikes middle-aged members of the same family). Much more common is the situation where a single-family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer's late in life.
What causes Alzheimer's?
Scientists are still not certain. Age and family history have been identified as potential risk factors. Researchers are exploring the role of genetics in the development of Alzheimer's, but most agree the disease is likely caused by a variety of factors. Each year, scientists are uncovering important new clues about potential causes of the disease, which is helping to generate more accurate diagnostic tests and better treatment options for affected individuals.
What are the warning signs?
The Alzheimer's Association has developed a list of warning signs that include common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (some also apply to other dementing illnesses). Individuals who exhibit several of these symptoms should see a physician for a complete examination.
Memory loss that affects job skills. It's normal to occasionally forget an assignment, deadline or colleague's name, but frequent forgetfulness or unexplainable confusion at home or in the workplace may signal that something's wrong.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks. Busy people get distracted from time to time. For example, you might leave something on the stove too long or not remember to serve part of a meal. People with Alzheimer's might prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but also forget they made it.
Problems with language....