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Alzheimer’s Disease: Introduction

Did you know?

The Alzheimer's Association has released a 2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report. One major finding of the report is that annual health care costs are over three times greater for individuals with Alzheimer's compared to elderly individuals without Alzheimer's ($33,007 vs. $10,603).

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible disease of the brain that affects a person’s memory, thinking, and other abilities.

How Common Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in people age 65 and over. Over 5.2 million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050 this number is expected to reach 11 to 16 million (Alzheimer’s Association, 2009).

How the Brain Changes With Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease, meaning that it gets worse and more functions are lost as more time passes. Some studies suggest that Alzheimer’s disease may begin attacking the brain long before symptoms are present. The disease first attacks the memory center of the brain, which causes people with AD to become more forgetful. As the disease progresses, the person may also begin to have other problems, such as problems with thinking and walking.

Alzheimer’s Disease Is NOT a Normal Part of Aging

Despite what some people think, getting Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. However, it is true that people are more likely to develop AD as they grow older. There is no cure for AD, but there are multiple treatments that can slow down the progression of the disease. Researchers believe that an individual who is diagnosed with AD at age 65 may live an average of 8-10 years (Alzheimer’s Disease Research, 2009). Although an individual older than 80 may only live 3 or 4 years after being diagnosed (NIA 2010).

More About Causes and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Causes, risk factors, and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are somewhat different from other forms of dementia. Follow the links below to learn more.

More About Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

Approaches to diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are similar to other forms of dementia. Follow the links below to learn more.

View References

Alzheimer’s Association. Research. Available at: http://www.alz.org/join_the_cause_research_jtc.asp. Retrieved March 30, 2009.

Alzheimer’s Disease Research. Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Stages. Available at: http://www.ahaf.org/alzheimers/about/symptomsandstages.html . Retrieved March 30, 2009.

National Institute for Aging. Alzheimer’s Information. ADEAR Website. 2010. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/nia.nih.gov/Templates/ADEARCommon/ADEARCommonPage.aspx?NRMODE=Published&NRNODEGUID={2D13AE9A-D6EF-4546-9F02-66D3B3CC1453}&NRORIGINALURL=%2fAlzheimers%2fAlzheimersInformation%2fGeneralInfo%2f&NRCACHEHINT=Guest#howlong. Retrieved on July 16, 2010

Resources

Alzheimer's Association Homepage

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: The Alzheimer's Association is one of the most popular resources for AD information online. It contains educational materials, information on support groups, community programs, current research, and many other resources for individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

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What is Alzheimer's?

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This web page provides a brief introduction to Alzheimer's disease including the biological changes in the disease, a discussion of the history of this disease, and the difference between “early stages” of Alzheimer's disease and “early onset” Alzheimer's.

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Basics of Alzheimer's Disease: What it is and What you can do

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This 32-page booklet discusses the basics of Alzheimer's disease including the warning signs, effects on the brain, causes and risk factors, diagnosis, stages of the disease, treatment, and current research and clinical studies.

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Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR)

Source: National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Description: The ADEAR Center offers education on Alzheimer's disease and dementia including current news and events, information for caregivers, links to government publications and reports, and information about participating in current clinical trials. You can sign up to be alerted by email when ADEAR have something new to offer. You can also search a database of fact sheets, textbook chapters, journal articles, brochures, teaching manuals, directories, videos and other media, bibliographies, program descriptions, monographs, newsletters, and reports related to Alzheimer's disease.

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Alzheimer Research Forum

Source: Alzheimer Research Forum
Description: This scientific website features information on research into medications used in the treatment of Alzheimer's, hereditary factors contributing to the development of Alzheimer's, and other topics. It includes information on clinical trials, news about research, recently published papers related to Alzheimer's, information on grants for doing research in this area, a list of members, researchers, and institutes and labs, and links to resources for disease management.

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