Alzheimer's disease attacks nerves, brain cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages to and from the brain), affecting the way your brain functions, your memory and the way you behave. It is also the most common form of dementia.
Dementia is a syndrome (a group of symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline in mental abilities.
While the exact cause is unknown, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may be increased by:
- increasing age
- a family history of the condition
- previous severe head injuries
- lifestyle factors and conditions associated with vascular disease.
If you are worried that you may have Alzheimer's disease then visit your doctor. They will want to know about any new or worsening problems you may have noticed such as:
- speech problems such as difficulty finding the right words
- difficulty in understanding what people are saying
- personality and mood changes
- difficulty with performing everyday routine activities.
There is no single test that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease. If your doctor suspects you may have Alzheimer’s disease they may refer you to a specialist to confirm the diagnosis.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of ageing, it is more common in older people and may affect about one in four people over the age of 85.
Are you a carer or helping someone out?
Carers are everyday people who provide unpaid and ongoing care and support to someone they know who has a disability, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependancy, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail.
Support for carers
Sources: Alzheimer’s Queensland (Types of dementia), NHS Choices, UK (Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's disease treatment, Alzheimer's disease diagnosis), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (Dementia in Australia),
Last reviewed: June 2015