Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. This brain disease gets progressively worse over time and is also irreversible, which means the damage that it incurs cannot be undone. Alzheimer's affects the brain's structure, causing twisted fragments of nerve cells, abnormal clusters of dead cells and areas of accumulated dying nerve cells.
The changes to the brain caused by Alzheimer's result in a progressive loss of intellectual and social skills. Several areas are affected, including memory, language, decision-making ability and personality, with mental functions continuing to decline over time. As the disease gets worse, these impairments can severely interfere with an individual's day-to-day life due to the fact that they begin to have trouble communicating, remembering how to perform simple tasks and distinguishing the names and faces of people they know. Many individuals with advanced Alzheimer's require in-home care or supported living arrangements in order to ensure their health and safety.
Although Alzheimer's disease cannot be reversed, there are several treatments available which can help to improve symptoms and maintain independence. Currently, intensive research is being undertaken to determine methods for preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease. Genetic studies have also provided new information about the causes and risk factors for Alzheimer's.