Definitions

Alzheimer disease

Alzheimer disease

[ahlts-hahy-merz, alts-, awlts-]

Degenerative brain disorder. It occurs in middle to late adult life, destroying neurons and connections in the cerebral cortex and resulting in significant loss of brain mass. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer disease progresses from short-term memory impairment to further memory loss; deterioration of language, perceptual, and motor skills; mood instability; and, in advanced stages, unresponsiveness, with loss of mobility and control of body functions; death typically ensues in 5–10 years. Originally described in 1906 by the German neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer (1864–1915) with reference to a 55-year-old person and regarded as a presenile dementia, Alzheimer disease is now recognized as accounting for much of the senile dementia once thought normal with aging. The 10percnt of cases that begin before age 60 result from an inherited mutation. Neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain on autopsy are the primary features used for diagnosis. No cure has been found. Most treatment targets the depression, behavioral problems, and sleeplessness that often accompany the disease.

Learn more about Alzheimer disease with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Alzheimer Disease International (ADI), was founded in 1984 to help to fight Alzheimer's disease that was first diagnosed back in 1906. In the present, ADI has grown as an international organization that also runs the Alzheimer University to help volunteers and staff of other Alzheimer Associations to develop the maximum capacity in their organization, and diminish the increasing population suffering from dementia, which is estimated to reach the toll of 80 million people worldwide by 2040.

The president of ADI is the Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, daughter of the actress Rita Hayworth, diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1981.

ADI is based in London, UK.

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