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alzheimer’s disease

what is alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting around 417,000 people in the UK (Alzheimer's Society, 2007). The disease, which was first described by the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer in 1901, affects the brain, causing characteristic changes to its structure and function.

what happens to the brain?
These changes include the abnormal processing of a type of protein, which leads to sticky clumps forming inside and between cells in the brain. There is also a loss of brain cells and a reduction in brain chemicals, particularly in the parts of the brain responsible for memory.

what are the symptoms of alzheimer's disease?
Early symptoms are minor memory problems, difficulties finding the right word and mood swings. Although these symptoms may happen to anyone, people with Alzheimer’s disease have particular difficulty with these, and they interfere with their everyday functioning. These symptoms become more severe with the progression of the disease, leading to confusion and personality changes. 

how is alzheimer's disease diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is made by a specialist doctor, such as a psychiatrist or neurologist, who takes a thorough history and conducts several assessments (including blood tests, brain scans and memory tests). Following diagnosis, people with Alzheimer’s disease may be prescribed medication to help slow down the progress of the disease and helped to cope with their memory problems, using compensatory strategies. 

what causes alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is most common in people aged over 65 years old, although some people do develop the disease earlier. No one single factor has been found to be responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It is likely, however, that the disease is caused by a mix of risk factors, such as age, genetic inheritance, environmental factors, diet and overall general health (Alzheimer's Society, 2007). 

where can we learn more?
For more comprehensive information on Alzheimer’s disease and for sources of support, please visit these websites:

Alzheimer’s Society: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk

(Tel: 0845 300 0336)

 Alzheimer’s Scotland: http://www.alzscot.org

(Tel: 0808 808 3000)


 Crossroads: http://www.crossroads.org.uk

(Carer support; Tel: 0845 450 0350)

 Crossroads Scotland: http://www.crossroads-scotland.co.uk/

(Carer support; Tel: 0141 353 6504)