Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, irreversible brain disease that destroys memory and thinking skills. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that as many as 5.1 million Americans has the disease, which affects people of all racial, economic, and educational backgrounds. Although Alzheimer's primarily affects people age 60 or older, it also may affect people in their 50s and, rarely, even younger.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in adults. Dementia is a loss of memory and intellect that interferes with daily life and activities. Dementia is not a disease; rather, it is a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases and conditions. Other symptoms include changes in personality, mood, or behavior.
Other causes of irreversible dementia include vascular dementia and alcohol abuse. The recommendations in this booklet deal primarily with common problems in Alzheimer's, but they also may be helpful for people with other types of dementia.
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