Alzheimer's and Dementia

Alzheimer's Disease


It's normal for people to forget things occasionally. But the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are different.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) produces a steady loss of - not just memory - but a number of thought processes like reasoning and judgment. For example, according to the Alzheimer's Association, it's not unusual to forget where you put the house keys. But someone with Alzheimer's may forget how to use the keys or what the keys are for. Eventually the loss can become severe enough to interfere with everyday life.

And the number of people affected by Alzheimer's is on the rise. The American Medical Association says that Alzheimer's disease or some related form of dementia (Read about "Dementia") affects 5 percent to 6 percent of all older Americans. According to the American Academy of Neurology, over five million Americans now have Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to continue climbing.


Dementia is not a disease itself. The term refers to a group of symptoms caused by changes in brain function. (Read about "The Brain") A person with dementia may ask the same questions repeatedly, get lost in familiar places, become disoriented about time or people. He or she may neglect personal safety, hygiene and nutrition. Dementia makes it hard for a person to carry out normal daily activities.

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), as we get older, it takes us longer to remember things or to find the right word to say. This is NOT dementia. The term for dementia used to be senility and it was once thought that becoming senile was just part of getting old. NIA says although dementia is more common in old age, it is not "normal" and should be evaluated. Aging alone should not interfere with our ability to function.

For more information about Alzheimer's, please click here.

For more information about Dementia, please click here.