What is Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. It begins slowly and gets worse over time. Currently, it has no cure. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older people.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning skills that interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people. Dementia ranges in severity from the mild stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for care.

What is typically the first sign of Alzheimer's disease?

Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. A person in the early (mild) stage of Alzheimer’s disease may:

  • Find it hard to remember things
  • Ask the same questions over and over
  • Get lost
  • Lose things or put them in odd places
  • Have trouble handling money and paying bills
  • Take longer than normal to finish daily tasks.

Other thinking problems besides memory loss may be the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease. A person may have trouble finding the right words, vision and spatial issues, or impaired reasoning or judgment. He or she may also have some mood or personality changes.