Alzheimer's Disease

(Alzheimer's Dementia)


Alzheimer's disease is a condition that destroys brain cells. People with this disease slowly lose the ability to learn, function, and remember. It is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is a loss in mental abilities that is great enough to interfere with daily life.
Areas of the Brain Affected by Alzheimer's Disease
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The cause of Alzheimer's is not yet known. Two factors that may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease are:

Risk Factors

People who are over 65 years of age have an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Other factors that may increase your chance of Alzheimer's disease include:
Researchers are studying the following to see if they are related to Alzheimer's disease:


The disease begins as mild memory lapses. It will continue toward a profound loss of memory and function. Alzheimer's disease is divided into 3 stages:
Symptoms include:


There are no tests to confirm Alzheimer's. You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Neurological, psychological, and mental status exams may be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Your brain's electrical activity may be measured. This can be done with electroencephalogram (EEG).


There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. There are no certain ways to slow its progression. Medication is available to treat some of the symptoms. The goal is to find a medication that can manage the symptoms or slow the condition's course.

Medications for Symptoms and Disease Progression

Medications that have been approved to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors—for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease
  • N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist—for moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease

Lifestyle Management

Managing the disease includes:
  • Creating an environment in which you can receive the care you need
  • Keeping your quality of life as high as possible
  • Keeping yourself safe
  • Helping yourself learn to deal with the frustration of your uncontrollable behavior
  • Providing a calm, quiet, predictable environment
  • Providing appropriate eyewear and hearing aids, and easy-to-read clocks and calendars
  • Playing quiet music
  • Doing light, appropriate exercise to reduce agitation and relieve depression
  • Encouraging family and close friends to visit frequently

Psychiatric Medication

Psychiatric symptoms may occur with Alzheimer’s disease. Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations

Caregiver Support

Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease is difficult and exhausting. The primary caregiver needs emotional support, rest, and regular breaks. The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for families and caregivers


There are no guidelines for preventing Alzheimer's disease because the exact cause is unknown. However, the following factors may help you reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease:


Alzheimer's Association

National Institute on Aging


Alzheimer Society Canada

Health Canada


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