IF YOU OR someone you love is having troubling remembering things, you’re probably worried about Alzheimer’s disease, a serious brain condition that gets worse over time. One in 10 people over 65 have it—and scientists think that it may start to develop 20 years before your first symptoms ever appear. While there’s no cure, there are new treatments on the horizon and ways you may be able to slow down the progress. And there is a lot to get a handle on. That’s why we talked to top Alzheimer’s experts to give you the knowledge you need on risk factors, treatments, and symptoms so you can continue to live your life. We’re sure you have a lot of questions…and we’re here to answer them.
What Is Alzheimer’s Anyway?
People talk about Alzheimer’s and dementia as if they are two different things. They’re not. Dementia is used to describe a group of conditions that affect your ability to think, remember, and go about your daily life. It ranges from mild impairment—you have trouble keeping track of the days or balancing a checkbook, say—to a total inability to take care of yourself.
There are many different reasons why you develop dementia, but the most common is Alzheimer’s disease—about 80% of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s, according to the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mostly, it affects those over 65 (although there’s a rare early onset version that can strike people even in their 30s)—about one in 10 adults over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s in the U.S., according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It’s also a progressive disease, meaning over the span of roughly four to 12 years, it can go from its mild form to its most severe. How fast it progresses tends to depend on the age you first show symptoms: People in their 60s decline faster than those who develop it in their 80s, though researchers don’t fully know why.
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