The exact cause of Alzheimer's, which is the death of brain cells, is not known, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, lifestyle and environment, according to the Mayo Clinic. Family history can play a significant roll in Alzheimer's, states the Alzheimer's Association.
The risk of getting Alzheimer's disease increases if a family member also has the disease, explains the Alzheimer's Association. After the age of 65, the risk factor doubles every 5 years, rising to a 50-percent chance of getting the disease after age 85.
Things that decrease the change of getting Alzheimer's disease, according to Mayo Clinic, include getting a better education or a more stimulating job, challenging the brain with activities, and participating in social interaction. Avoiding head trauma is another prevention method. Risk factors to avoid include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a lack of exercise and a poor diet.
Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease, according to Medical News Today. With this disease the brain actually shrinks as more of the brain cells die off. Signs of the disease include the inability to remember new information; impaired judgement and reasoning; a decline in communication skills; an inability to remember faces or everyday objects; and a change in personality. The decline must be in at least two of these areas for a person to be at risk.