Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. 5.7 million Americans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018. It is the fifth leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older, and the sixth leading cause of death for all adults. Alzheimer’s disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language, and, over time, can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Although the cause is still unknown, scientists are learning more every day about Alzheimer’s disease and what can be done to prevent and treat this fatal illness.
- Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.
- 5.7 million Americans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018.
- Symptoms usually begin after age 60, but Alzheimer’s disease likely starts a decade or more before problems first appear.
- Risk factors include aging, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking cigarettes, and a family history of dementia.
- Alzheimer’s death rates increased 55% and the number of Alzheimer’s deaths at home increased from 14% to 25% while deaths in institutional settings decreased, from 1999 to 2014.
- More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
- Currently, there is no cure. There are pharmaceutical options for managing symptoms and care planning.
Some risks factors to brain health cannot be controlled or prevented, like your age or genetics. Other risk factors, like health choices, are under your control. For example, you can:
- Get active and stay active.
- Manage cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
- Learn new things.
- Connect with your family, friends and communities.
- Page last reviewed: June 19, 2018
- Page last updated: June 19, 2018
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