Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. It can affect memory, thinking skills and other mental abilities.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is not yet fully understood, although a number of things are thought to increase your risk of developing the condition including:
- increasing age
- a family history of the condition
- untreated depression
- lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease
Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer's disease are usually minor memory problems and can often be hard to spot.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:
- confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
- difficulty planning or making decisions
- problems with speech and language
- problems moving around without assistance or performing self care tasks
- personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others.
- low mood or anxiety
Who can be affected by Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease is most common in people over the age of 65.
It is estimated that 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in every 6 people over the age of 80 have Alzheimer’s.
But young people can also get Alzheimer’s, known as early onset Alzheimer’s. Although less common (around 1 in every 20 people with Alzheimer's disease are under the age of 65).
How is Alzheimer's disease treated?
There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but medicines are available that can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer's live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it's easier to move around and remember daily tasks.
Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.
Can Alzheimer's disease be prevented?
As the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is not clear, there's no known way to prevent the condition, but there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight
- staying physically fit and mentally active
Do you, or someone you know, have Alzheimer’s? Are you getting the support that you need?
Tell us your story and we can help improve the experience for other people too.
Have you or someone you know suffered with Alzheimer's disease? Would you like to share your personal experiences of how your treatment went? We value all feedback, and you can share your experiences with us here