Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease affects men and women of all ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds.
Alzheimer's disease is a fatal, progressive and degenerative disease. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 64% of all cases of dementia. It is not a normal part of aging and no one is immune.
Alzheimer's disease eventually affects all aspects of a person's life: how he or she thinks, feels and acts. People's ability to understand, think, remember and communicate will be affected. Changes will develop in the way the person reacts to his or her environment. The disease can affect a person’s physical co-ordination and mobility, leading to a gradual physical decline.
Since individuals are affected differently, it is difficult to predict the symptoms each person will have, the order in which they will appear, or the speed of the disease's progression.
There have been significant advances in treatments that can have an impact on an individual's day-to-day life. Earlier diagnosis is improving the quality of life for many people who begin treatment in the early stages. Several medications may slow the decline of memory, language and thinking abilities in some people. Although these drugs do not work for everyone, they are a valuable step forward in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
New behavioural therapeutic strategies are also helping people living with the disease. Therapeutic techniques, like physical activity and music therapy, are being used as viable and useful treatments. Research shows that the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s disease, and also their caregivers, is significantly improved by activities that emphasize their strengths and abilities. By understanding the person’s personality, life experiences, support systems and ways of coping, an approach to care can be created that preserves and improves quality of life.