Dementia Care Site Map
Alzheimer's Disease

 

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia in Australia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.

 

Most people who develop Alzheimer's Disease are over 65 years of age, however it is estimated that in Australia in 2011 there are 23,900* individuals living with Younger Onset Dementia i.e. under 65 years of age.

 

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative condition that attacks the brain, causing changes to memory, thinking and behaviour. Symptoms usually develop over time, early symptoms can be very subtle.  As the disease progresses, symptoms become more noticeable and interfere with daily life. As brain cells shrink or disappear abnormal material builds up such as tangles in the centre of the brain cells and plaques outside the brain cells.

 

These abnormalities disrupt messages within the brain, damaging connections between brain cells. The brain cells eventually die and this means that information cannot be recalled or assimilated.

 

As Alzheimer's disease affects each area of the brain, certain functions or abilities are lost. While Alzheimer's disease will affect each person differently and symptoms experienced can vary, common symptoms may include (Ref: Alzheimer's Australia):

 

  • Persistent and frequent memory loss, especially of recent events
  • Vagueness in everyday conversation
  • Being less able to plan, problem solve, organise and think logically
  • Language difficulties such as finding the right word and understanding conversations
  • Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
  • Taking longer to do routine tasks
  • Becoming disoriented, even in well-known places
  • Inability to process questions and instructions
  • Deterioration of social skills
  • Emotional unpredictability
  • Changes in behaviour, personality and mood

 

 

For more information on types of dementia see Alzheimer's Australia's helpsheets, About dementia

 

 

Unravelling the Genetics of Alzheimer's

Being that Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia it is in less than 1% of cases that Alzheimer's can be passed down in families.

 

Alzheimer's Research UK has produced a video that reveals the genetics and risk factors associated with the disease.

 

 

*Statistics provided by AIHW - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare