Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that damages the brain. It begins years before the symptoms appear and leads to the buildup of abnormal protein deposits, called plaques and tangles. These deposits cause cell death and significant brain shrinkage. Although the disease cannot be diagnosed while the person is still alive, doctors can make an accurate diagnosis about 90% of the time. The symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are similar, but there are a few differences that distinguish the two.
Early symptoms include the inability to remember recent events and common objects. Patients may also forget names of friends or family members. In addition, they may have trouble understanding what is going on around them. They may repeat questions and have trouble making decisions. Eventually, they may even become totally dependent on a caregiver.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, there are several types of dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of conditions that affect the ability to think, remember, and reason. These conditions can be caused by different factors, but can often be a sign of other diseases as well.
While Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with no known cure, some treatments can slow the progression. Symptoms of dementia can take up to a decade before they appear. Approximately five million Americans suffer from the disease. But there’s one thing that’s important to know. While the disease can be a terrible burden for family members, it is a progressive one, and there’s no cure yet.