Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurocognitive disease that slowly erodes an individual's memory, judgment, cognition, learning, and, eventually, ability to function. It is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly, and represents an enormous burden on its victims and their families because it affects a person's mood, thinking, and behavior as well as their overall personality and disposition.
Alzheimer's disease—characterized as well by language deterioration, impaired ability to mentally manipulate visual information, poor judgment, confusion, and restlessness—is most commonly found in adults over age 60, but it can at times occur in younger adults as well. It is not considered a normal process of aging and is estimated to occur in 5 percent of individuals between age 65 and 75. One's risk of developing the disease tends to increase with age: Nearly 50 percent of adults 85 years or older tend to develop Alzheimer's.
Early signs of the condition may include forgetting important dates or events, misplacing things, finding it hard to complete familiar tasks at home or work, being confused about time or place, developing problems using words, losing planning or problem-solving abilities, and showing mood or personality changes. Because some of these symptoms may occur as part of normal aging, they are often unrecognized or undiagnosed.