DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions.
It's the most common cause of dementia — a group of brain disorders that results in the loss of intellectual and social skills. These changes are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life.
In Alzheimer's disease, the connections between brain cells and the brain cells themselves degenerate and die, causing a steady decline in memory and mental function.
Current Alzheimer's disease medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms. This can sometimes help people with Alzheimer's disease maximize function and maintain independence.
But because there's no cure for Alzheimer's disease, it's important to seek supportive services and tap into your support network as early as possible.
- Thies W, et al. 2012 Alzheimer's disease facts and figures. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2012; 8:131.
- Halter JB, et al. Hazzard's Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=540.. Accessed Nov. 18, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4.. Accessed Nov. 18, 2012.
- Basics of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/brochure_basicsofalz_low.pdf. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Alzheimer's disease fact sheet. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/7DCA00DB-1362-4755-9E87-96DF669EAE20/13991/ADFactSheetFINAL2510.pdf. Accessed Nov. 18, 2012.
- Alzheimer's disease information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/alzheimersdisease/alzheimersdisease.htm. Accessed Dec. 13, 2012.
- Desai AK. Revitalizing the aging brain. Medical Clinics of North America. 2011;95:463.
- Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/caring-person-alzheimers-disease/understanding-ad. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Essentials of a diagnostic workup. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/professionals_and_researchers_14902.asp. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Nowrangi MA. Epidemiology, assessment and treatment of dementia. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2011;34:275.
- Alternative treatments. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_alternative_treatments.asp. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Preventing Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline. National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference Statement. http://consensus.nih.gov/2010/alzstatement.htm. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Farina N, et al. Vitamin E for Alzheimer's dementia and mild cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002854.pub3/abstract. Accessed Dec. 10, 2012.
- Natural medicines in the clinical management of Alzheimer's disease. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Dec. 10, 2012.