Alzheimer's disease causes progressive brain changes that lead to declines of memory, judgment, ability to carry out usual daily activities, and personality changes.
Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. An estimated one in 10 people over the age of 65 are affected. The risk for developing the disease doubles every five years after the age of 65 years so that nearly one-half of people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer's disease. * That number has more than doubled since 1980 and will continue to grow at a staggering rate, given the unprecedented growth of the aging population.
*Reference: Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet-2011
For more information, go to www.alz.org.
Memory loss is not a normal part of aging. While some aspects of memory and thinking change with age (slower retrieval, for example) the brain can be expected to function as accurately as it did when an older adult was younger. If thinking, memory and judgment are declining, there is cause for concern. Potential causes of memory loss other than probable Alzheimer's disease include depression, medication interactions, strokes, chemical imbalances, hypothyroidism. The person needs to be thoroughly evaluated for the possible cause of the memory and judgment problems.