Alzheimer's Disease



The exact cause is not known. Genetics may play a role.

Risk Factors

It is more common in people who are 65 and older. It is also more common in people who have other families members who have it. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

Lifestyle habits that may raise the risk are:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Lack of activity



Symptoms start slowly and get worse over time. They may be:

  • Memory loss
  • Losing items
  • Problems planning or solving problems
  • Problems making decisions
  • Problems doing day-to-day tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Problems with images and spatial skills
  • Problems speaking and writing
  • Problems sleeping
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Personality changes
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Believing things that are not based in reality


There are no tests to confirm the disease. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. A cognitive exam will also be done. Blood tests will be done to rule out problems.

Images may be taken of the brain. This can be done with:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • PET/CT scan

Some people may need more testing based on their symptoms.



There is no cure. The goal of most care is support and safety. Care facilities can help to ease stress on caretakers. Day programs or home care offer support while the person lives at home. A full-time care facility may be needed if home is no longer safe or healthy place for them and others. Someone with later stage dementia can need around the clock care. They can wander at any points of the day, get lost, or get into danger. Changes in emotional control and anxiety may also be hard to manage at home. Some facilities specialize in care for people with dementia. Other treatment steps may include:


Some medicine may help to slow the disease. Current medicine includes:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors to treat changes in thinking
  • N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist to improve memory

Other Treatments

Other treatments may help to manage the effect of Alzheimers for a time. These may be:

  • Cognitive training to engage thinking
  • Occupational therapy to improve function


Healthy habits may lower the risk of Alzheimer disease in some people. This means:

  • Eating a healthful diet
  • Not smoking
  • Staying mentally active
  • Limiting alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men
  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Managing chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.