Alzheimer's disease dementia is a progressive, degenerative brain disease and has no known cure. It is the most common form of dementia and eventually leads to death. Alzheimer's disease significantly impacts the patient's ability to function cognitively, which is the most apparent symptom of the disease.

As we age, our brains change along with our bodies, and minor memory problems and slower thinking can occur. When the memory loss is more serious, and is combined with confusion and mood changes, it may be Alzheimer's disease.

Simply put, Alzheimer's disease is the breakdown and destruction of brain cells. Since the brain is the central command station of the body, a breakdown in cells can come with the loss of everyday functions like speech and memory.

The brain has 100 billion nerve cells (neurons). In Alzheimer's disease, some parts of these cells become damaged. Their breakdown begins to

cause problems in other areas of the brain. As the damage spreads, cells lose their ability to support brain functions. Eventually, the brain cells die.

Two abnormal microscopic structures called plaques and tangles are prime suspects in damaging and killing nerve cells. Plaques build up between nerve cells. They contain deposits of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid. Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau.

Scientists are not absolutely sure what role plaques and tangles play in Alzheimer's disease. Most experts believe they somehow block communication among nerve cells and disrupt activities that cells need to survive.

To date, there is no scientific consensus on what causes Alzheimer's disease, and though researchers are hard at work, there is still no cure.


In this clip from the Conversations in Caregiving webcast, TV/radio personality and Alzheimer's advocate Leeza Gibbons discusses the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease with a neurologist.


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