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Alzheimer Disease

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is Alzheimer disease (AD)?

AD is a brain disorder that causes memory loss over time. Parts of the brain die and cannot make normal levels of brain chemicals. This causes problems with how you think, behave, and remember things. The disease usually starts at about age 65 to 70 years but can start earlier. The exact cause of AD is not known.

What increases my risk for AD?

The risk for AD increases with age, but it is not a normal part of aging. The following may increase your risk for AD:

What are the signs and symptoms of mild AD?

Early AD symptoms may be minor and last from 1 to 3 years.

What are the signs and symptoms of moderate AD?

What are the signs and symptoms of severe AD?

How is AD diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you. He or she will ask questions about your symptoms and when they started. Your provider will ask if you have other family members with AD. He or she will also ask if you take any medicines and if you drink alcohol or use tobacco.

How is AD treated?

AD cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Treatment includes keeping a good quality of life, for as long as possible. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the most current treatment available. Your healthcare provider may suggest one or more of the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What can I do to manage AD?

You may have a family member or friend who can help you with daily tasks. Your healthcare provider can give you information on how to find someone if needed. The person can help set up alarms or timers to remind you to eat, take medicines, and use the bathroom. He or she may be able to help you prepare meals, bathe, and get to appointments. The kind of help you need will change over time. The following can help you manage AD:

Further information

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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