Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia.Most often, it is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age,although the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer's can occur much earlier. As the disease advances, symptoms include confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, language breakdown, long-term memory loss, and the general withdrawal of the sufferer as their senses decline.Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death.Individual prognosis is difficult to assess, as the duration of the disease varies.Alzheimer's disease develops for an indeterminate period of time before becoming fully apparent, and it can progress undiagnosed for years. The mean life expectancy following diagnosis is approximately seven years.
The cause and progression of Alzheimer's disease are not well understood. Research indicates that the disease is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain.Currently used treatments offer a small symptomatic benefit; no treatments to delay or halt the progression of the disease are as yet available.
Because AD cannot be cured and is degenerative, management of patients is essential. The role of the main caregiver is often taken by the spouse or a close relative.Alzheimer's disease is known for placing a great burden on caregivers; the pressures can be wide-ranging, involving social, psychological, physical, and economic elements of the caregiver's life.