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What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of dementia causing as many as 50 to 70% of all dementia cases. In fact, Alzheimer’s is a very specific form of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include impaired thought, impaired speech, and confusion. Doctors use a variety of screenings to determine the cause of dementia including blood tests, mental status evaluations and brain scans.

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms including impaired thinking and memory. It is a term that is often associated with the cognitive decline of aging. However, issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia. 

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.

Common dementia's 



Mixed or Combination

Lewy Body


Huntington’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Wernicke Korsakoff 

Other conditions that may cause memory loss or dementia include:

Medication side effect

Chronic alcoholism

Tumors or infections in the brain

Blood clots in the brain

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders


Sleep disturbances

Tips to Prevent Wandering

•Keep doors locked. Consider a keyed deadbolt, or add another lock placed up high or down low on the door  If the person can open a lock, you may need to get a new latch or lock

•Use loosely fitting doorknob covers so that the cover turns instead of the actual knob

•Place STOP, DO NOT ENTER, or CLOSED signs on doors

•Install safety devices found in hardware stores to limit how much windows can be opened

•Install an “announcing system” that chimes when a door is opened

•Secure the yard with fencing and a locked gate

•Keep shoes, keys, suitcases, coats, hats, and other signs of departure out of sight

•Do not leave a person with Alzheimer’s who has a history of wandering unattended

Note: Due to the potential hazard, they could cause if an emergency exit is needed

locked doors and doorknob covers should be used only when a caregiver is present

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