More than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating, progressive dementia that attacks the brain’s neurons. A half million people under 65 live with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. As the American population ages, both numbers will grow, increasing the need for a better understanding of what causes this disease and exactly how it causes neural degeneration.
While certain proteins have been found in the brains of those diagnosed with the disease, how these proteins are related to the development of dementia and what other factors contribute to who gets Alzheimer’s and who doesn’t is still unknown. As a result, there’s no treatment available to reverse or halt the progress of Alzheimer’s. A diagnosis helps those affected and the people who care about them learn about and plan for what’s to come.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s can be tricky because the symptoms aren’t clear cut. Here’s what you need to know about how the diagnosis is made.