Alzheimer Disease & Dementia
Dementia means loss of the functioning of the mind. Alzheimer Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, but demenia can also be produced by cerebrovascular disease (strokes or multi-infarct dementia), Lewy Body Disease (Parkinson Dementia), Fronto-temporal Demenita (Pick Disease) and many less common causes.
The German physician Alois Alzheimer first described the disease named for him in 1906 after studying a patient named Auguste D., who is pictured on the left. He also described the changes in the brain by studying Auguste's brain at the autopsy.
The earliest sign of AD is usually failure of memory. Although normally our memory worsens with age, if memory fails to the extent that it is seriously impacting the patient's ability to function socially, occupationally, or in performing their activities of daily living, then it has reached the point of dementia.
Often, if not usually, the patients themselves are poorly aware of the changes that are affecting them. It is the family that becomes aware and it is the family that seems to suffer the most when a loved one is affect.
AD and most other forms of dementia cannot be cured, and are progressive (get worse over time). However, we now have treatments that can improve the functioning and behavior to some extent.
Slices of brain showing a normal brain on the left, a brain from an Alzheimer patient on the right
Useful Dementia Web Sites
- Alzheimer's Association
- Alzheimer's Foundation of America
- American Academy of Neurology Dementia Page
- American Academy of Neurology Alzheimer's Page
- Association for Frontotemporal Dementias
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Lewy Body Dementia Association
- Medline Plus (National Library of Medicine)
- National Family Caregivers Association
- National Institute on Aging Alzheimer's Disease Education & Referral Center
- National Institutes of Health Dementia Page
- National Institutes of Health Alzheimer Page
- National Institutes of Health Lewy Body Page
- National Institutes of Health Multi-Infarct Dementia Page
We have looked at these books and recommend them as useful sources of information. Links are included to the Amazon website where they also can often be obtained used at a very nominal price.
Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease, by Joanne Koenig Coste.