Definition

A progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain. An irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks

Causes

Though there is no definitive cause, scientists believe microscopic changes in the brain are the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. Two abnormal structures – plaques and tangles – are suspected of causing disease: most people develop some plaques and tangles as they age, but those with Alzheimer’s tend to develop far more and in a predictable pattern.

Statistics

  • Most common cause (60% – 80% of cases) of dementia
  • As many as 5.5 million Americans over 65 years of age may have Alzheimer’s

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Family History
  • Genetics
  • History of Cardiovascular Disease
  • History of Head Injury

Prevention

There is currently no known way to prevent an individual from Alzheimer’s disease, but studies suggest that healthy aging (eating a healthy diet, staying socially active, avoiding tobacco, avoiding excess alcohol, and exercise) may keep the brain healthy, as well.

Vaccinations

People with a chronic disease are at higher risk for serious problems from certain diseases. Getting vaccinated is an important step in staying healthy.

The CDC recommends all adults receive:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Talk to your doctor about which other vaccines are right for you.

COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia does not increase risk for COVID-19, however, dementia-related behaviors, increased age and common health conditions that often accompany dementia may increase risk.

Resources

Support Groups