Alzheimer’s is type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The term of ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms which can include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. This fact sheet outlines the symptoms and risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, and treatment are currently available.
During the course of the disease, protein ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ develop in the structure of the brain, leading to the death of brain cells. People with Alzheimer’s also have a shortage of some important chemicals in their brain. These chemicals are involved with the transmission of messages within the brain. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. As this happens, the symptoms become more severe.
People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may experience lapses of memory and have problems finding the right words. As the disease progresses, they may:-
- Become confused and frequently forget the names of people, places, appointments and recent events.
- Experience mood swings, feel sad or angry, or scared and frustrated by their increasing memory loss.
- Become more withdrawn, due either to a loss of confidence or to communication problems.
- Have difficulty carrying out everyday activities – they may get muddled checking their change at the shops or become unsure how to work the TV remote.
As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer’s will need more support from those who care for them. Eventually, they will need help with all their daily activities. While there are some common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to remember that everyone is unique.