Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease. Several changes
occur in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The brain cells
shrink or disappear, and are replaced by dense, irregularly-shaped spots,
or plaques. Another indicator of the disease is thread-like tangles
within existing brain cells. These tangles eventually choke healthy
As the image below shows, a person with Alzheimer's disease has less brain tissue (right) than a person who does not have the disease (left). This shrinkage will continue over time, affecting how the brain functions.
As Alzheimer's disease affects each area of the brain, certain functions or abilities are lost. This results in specific symptoms or changes in behaviour. Once an ability is lost it, can rarely be relearned.
Although the disease results in changes, it does not affect the person's ability to appreciate, respond to and experience feelings such as joy, anger, fear, love or sadness.
While it is not possible to restore function to brain cells damaged by Alzheimer's disease, there are treatments and strategies that can help both the person with the disease and the caregiver.
of Alzheimer's Disease
Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer's disease is a less common form of the
disease and accounts for 5 to 10 per cent of known cases. In certain
families, this form is passed directly from one generation to another.