Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, which is a degenerative disease that slowly and progressively destroys brain cells.

The disease affects memory and mental functioning, such as the ability to think and speak properly, but it can also lead to other problems such as confusion, changes of mood and disorientation in time and space.

If the person does not die of other causes first, Alzheimer’s disease is eventually a terminal illness, although the affected person usually dies from an associated problem such as pneumonia.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

Scientists have not yet identified what causes Alzheimer’s disease and some people get it and some don’t.

Could I have Alzheimer’s disease?

There are a number of changes in memory, thinking and behaviour to look out for which can suggest a person may have Alzheimer’s disease.

The person will find it increasingly difficult to do everyday tasks such as getting dressed, washing, getting around, remembering appointments and so on.

They may also start to experience difficulty in remembering information like the date, their whereabouts and local facts.

Once these signs start appearing, it is important to go to the doctor to have a thorough physical and mental examination. Alzheimer’s disease is usually diagnosed through a clear history of the signs and a process of elimination of other possible causes in the changes the person is experiencing.

Also, new methods of brain imaging are being developed. These have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease have different brain scans to those who don’t.

Can Alzheimer’s Disease be treated?

As yet, there is no preventative or curative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

There have been drugs developed which can help the person to feel better; some drugs can prevent some of the symptoms, such as agitation, anxiety, depression, hallucinations, confusion and insomnia.

Unfortunately, these drugs don’t work for everyone, so it’s important to stay in close consultation with your doctor to find out the best way to manage the disease.

Research has shown that if the person and their family get information and support, they will feel better and be able to cope better with the changes they are facing. Alzheimer’s Australia can assist people with information, education and support services.

Where can I get more information?

  • Click here for the Pfizer Australia Health Report on Dementia – a short report that focuses on dementia with a special examination of the way it impacts on people’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
  • For more information, please contact Alzheimer’s Australia or speak to your Doctor. 
  • The CIBIS/CIBIC, or Clinician Interview Based Impression of Severity, can aid clinicans in the management of the Alzheimer’s Disease in patients. Click here to view the CIBIS/CIBIC document.

Visit for more information and resources for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and Carers.

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