Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting an estimated 850,000 people in the UK.
Dementia is a progressive neurological disease which affects multiple brain functions, including memory.
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, although a number of things are thought to increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:
· increasing age
· a family history of the condition
· previous severe head injuries
· lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease
It’s becoming increasingly understood that it’s very common to have both changes of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia together (mixed dementia).
Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually and become more severe over the course of several years. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems. For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:
· confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
· difficulty planning or making decisions
· problems with speech and language
· problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
· personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
· hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there) and delusions (believing things that are untrue)
· low mood or anxiety
Who is affected?
Alzheimer’s disease is most common in people over the age of 65 and affects slightly more women than men.
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia increases with age, affecting an estimated 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in every 6 people over the age of 80.
However, around 1 in every 20 cases of Alzheimer’s disease affects people aged 40 to 65.
Published by NHS