7 Things You Might Not Know About Alzheimer's Disease

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Hanes, RN on September 2, 2021
  • senior Hispanic couple reading newspaper and talking at breakfast table in kitchen
    Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease to Help You Cope
    Coping with Alzheimer’s disease, as the person who has it or as the person’s caregiver, friend or family member, can be challenging. And the challenge can be unnecessarily larger if you’re surrounded by certain misconceptions about the disease. Having accurate Alzheimer’s disease information helps with symptom recognition, diagnosis, and treatment. Test your knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease stages and symptoms, the Alzheimer’s early onset age, and more.
  • Senior African American man looking concerned while senior African American woman comfort hims
    1. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia.
    Many people wonder what the difference is between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The answer is that the term dementia encompasses several types of conditions that all involve memory loss and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s disease is one specific type, or cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of cognitive issues in older adults. From a diagnostic standpoint, evaluating Alzheimer’s vs. dementia comes down to pinpointing any underlying cause of the cognitive symptoms. For example, symptoms occurring after a stroke might be due to vascular dementia (a condition of the blood vessels) and not changes in the brain due to Alzheimer’s.
  • Senior woman with child
    2. Women are far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men.
    Of the nearly 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, around 4 million of them are women. No one knows why, but the statistics indicate women should take a very proactive approach to cognitive health as they approach age 65. You can learn the signs of Alzheimer’s disease to self-assess, and you also can solicit feedback from close friends and family members to see if they notice behavioral changes in you that could indicate Alzheimer’s. Discuss your concerns with your doctor, because early diagnosis leads to earlier treatment.
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    3. Alzheimer’s disease can develop before age 65.
    Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can arise in people as young as age 40. It’s true that the chance of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age, but people who exhibit early signs of Alzheimer’s should not brush them off. If you’re on the younger side of 65 but develop memory problems that disrupt your daily life, for example, you should consult a healthcare professional for an evaluation. Everyday life stress and other factors can cause dementia-like symptoms, so don’t try to self-diagnose. No matter your age, if you start having issues following a dinner recipe or managing your budget, seek a medical opinion.
  • Senior woman on scooter
    4. Your ethnicity can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.
    For reasons that remain unclear, older African Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. And people of Hispanic heritage face a one-and-a-half-times higher risk than older Caucasians to develop a form of dementia. If you are in one of these groups, be alert for the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s—including significant memory loss, difficulty driving to a well-known destination (or finding the way home), or persistent confusion about the time or place—and seek medical attention if they develop.
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    5. Occasional memory trouble is not an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
    Middle-aged and older people frequently have difficulty immediately calling a word or name to mind, or they may think it’s Tuesday when it’s Wednesday. These types of small lapses are not signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The 10 signs of Alzheimer’s include serious lapses of memory, such as frequently losing the train of thought in conversation and being unable to recall it; often making up words for common objects because they can’t remember the right names for them (such as calling a television a “movie box”); or dressing for winter weather when it’s summer.
  • Close-up of hand on door handle with outdoor scene in background
    6. There are three distinct Alzheimer’s disease stages.
    Alzheimer’s disease cannot be cured. It progresses through three distinct stages, often over the course of many years, before it finally may take a person’s life. The Alzheimer’s Association defines the three stages as: mild, moderate and severe. The moderate stage lasts the longest and includes symptoms like forgetting bits of personal history, such as one’s own address or phone number; wandering or getting lost; and persistent confusion about time and place. In the severe stage, a person may become unable to speak or swallow. People with severe Alzheimer’s generally require round-the-clock caregiving.
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    7. Medications can treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
    People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience a diverse array of symptoms, including changes in mood or personality. Medications like antidepressants can address these issues, and other medications can manage some of the memory symptoms of Alzheimer’s. These medications cannot slow the progression of the disease, but in some people, they have been shown to help maintain the cognitive and speaking skills necessary to perform the major activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing. Early intervention with medication may help people with less-severe symptoms maintain their independence longer.
Alzheimer's Disease: 7 Things You Might Not Know

About The Author

As “the nurse who knows content,” Elizabeth Hanes, RN, works with national and regional healthcare systems, brands, agencies and publishers to produce all types of consumer-facing content. Formerly a perioperative and cosmetic surgery nurse, Elizabeth today uses her nursing knowledge to inform her writing on a wide variety of medical, health and wellness topics.
  1. Alzheimer’s Disease. U.S. National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/alzheimersdisease.html
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Alzheimers-Disease-Information-Page
  3. Alzheimer’s Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm
  4. Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures. U.S. Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures
  5. Early-onset Alzheimer’s: When Symptoms Begin Before Age 65. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048356
  6. Stages of Alzheimer’s. U.S. Alzheimer’s Association. https://alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/stages
  7. 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. U.S. Alzheimer’s Association. https://alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs
  8. What is Dementia? U.S. Alzheimer’s Association. https://alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia
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Last Review Date: 2021 Sep 2
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.