Question: What is Alzheimer's?
Answer: It is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Forgetfulness that increases, along with mild confusion, may be the only symptoms at first. But over time the disease affects more of your memory, particularly recent memories. The rate at which symptoms worsen varies from person to person.
Q: Is Alzheimer's fatal?
A: Yes. Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others.
Q: Is there a cure?
A: No, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop the disease from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. There is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset and prevent it from developing.
Q: What are the risk factors for developing Alzheimer's?
A: Key risk factors are age and family history. Most individuals with the disease are age 65 or older, although the disease also can affect people in their 50s and younger. Those who have a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimer's are more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness.
Q: Where can I get help?
A: The national Alzheimer's Association operates a 24-hour help line, 800-272-3900, which connects you with your local chapter. Visit the national organization's website, alz.org, or the Midlands chapter, alz.org/midlands.
Sources: Alzheimer's Association, Mayo Clinic