Alzheimer's disease is a common mental condition that often affects older people. Alzheimer's disease is believed to be caused by abnormal deposits of the protein beta-amyloid and twisted strands of the protein tau on the brain. This condition can also be caused by nerve cell damage and death in the brain. While not every person will develop Alzheimer's, these are some of the risk factors that can make this condition more likely to occur.
Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of the aging process. However, it does affect those who are elderly much more commonly than younger people. Studies have show that 10% of people who are 65 years of age or older and 47% of people who are 85 years of age or older will have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is also believed to be an inherited disease. Those who have close relatives, such as a parent, grandparent or sibling, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease is more likely to develop the disease than those who have no family history of it.
Some people who have suffered a severe head injury earlier in life may also be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when they become older. Injuries sustained to the neck and spinal cord have also been linked as being risk factors for being diagnosed with Alzheimer's later in life.
A person's lifestyle may also play a role in whether they develop Alzheimer's disease. Getting proper exercise and sticking to a healthy diet may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Avoiding unhealthy habits such as tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption may also keep the brain healthier and decrease the likelihood that a person will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
The health of a person's heart is also linked to the health of his brain. Those who do not suffer from heart disease or other cardiovascular problems are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease as well.
The early symptoms of Alzheimer's include trouble remembering recent events, depression and a noticeable lack of interest or concern for things that were once very important to the person. Late stage symptoms of this disease may involve the person being confused frequently, having poor judgment, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. However, there are medications available that can help minimize the symptoms.