About Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a disorder of the brain which affects more than 5.3 million people in the United States and more than 26.6 million people world-wide.
Alzheimer’s Disease destroys cells in the brain, leading to a gradual loss of memory and disturbances in thinking which disrupt the activities of daily life. Because of its disruptive effects, Alzheimer’s Disease imposes a tremendous burden on family members and other caretakers, whose lives are often profoundly affected as well.
Most people with Alzheimer’s Disease begin to display symptoms after age 65, but it can affect younger people as well. There are more women than men with Alzheimer’s Disease, but this is explained by the fact that women live longer on average than men. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's than whites, and Hispanics are about 1.5 times more likely than whites to develop the disease.
Despite the progress that has been made in our scientific understanding of the brain, the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are not yet fully understood. And while medications and other forms of therapy can moderate the toll the disease takes on the lives of its victims, Alzheimer’s Disease is currently incurable and is often terminal. It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.
Alzheimer’s Disease develops because of a chain of events that take place in the brain over several years. Scientists classify Alzheimer’s Disease into progressively more debilitating stages. In its earliest stages, no symptoms are apparent, but as the disease progresses, it moves through stages that are generally characterized as mild, moderate, and severe.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of dementia, which is a more general term referring to a global impairment of intellectual functioning that interferes with normal abilities. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 - 80% of cases.
It is important that Alzheimer’s Disease be identified and treated as early as possible. Starting treatment in the early stages of the illness can help preserve the ability to function for months or years, even though the underlying disease process cannot be stopped. Early diagnosis also provides more time to plan for long-term needs, resolve legal and financial issues, and establish networks of support.