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Alzheimer's disease

seated older man talking with younger woman crouching next to his chair

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a form of dementia, which is a brain disorder. It damages nerve cells in the brain. This affects your ability to remember things, think clearly, and care for yourself.

AD begins slowly, and symptoms get worse with time. Eventually, a person with AD might need help in many areas, including eating and getting dressed. For some people in the early or middle stages of the disease, medicine might help symptoms, such as memory loss, from getting worse for a limited time. Other drugs may help people feel less worried or depressed.

Dealing with Alzheimer's disease can be extremely difficult, but planning ahead and getting support can lighten the load. AD usually begins after age 60, and risk goes up with age. The risk is also higher if a family member has had AD.

Scientists are working to better understand AD. Ongoing studies are looking at whether some things can help prevent or delay the disease. Areas that are being explored include exercise, eating omega-3 fatty acids, and keeping your brain active.

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More information on Alzheimer's disease

Explore other publications and websites

  • Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet - This fact sheet discusses how Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging. It describes the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and care for those with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Alzheimer's Disease Medications Fact Sheet - This publication provides information on the medications used to treat mild to severe symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. A table provides the recommended effective dosage and possible side effects for these medicines.
  • Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers Directory External Website Policy - This website features a directory of Alzheimer's disease research centers across the country and explains what they are doing to help Alzheimer's patients.
  • Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery - This booklet provides illustrations of how a healthy brain looks and works, explains what happens in a brain affected by Alzheimer's disease, and describes current research. It also includes a list of publications and resources that family members and caregivers may find useful.
  • Home Safety for People With Alzheimer's Disease - This booklet is for those who provide in-home care for people with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders. The goal is to improve home safety by identifying potential problems in the home and offering possible solutions to help prevent accidents.

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Content last updated: January 10, 2011.

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