What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. It is expected an estimated 447,115 Australians in 2019 will be living with dementia. Worldwide dementia affects almost 50 million people, which is predicted to increase to 131.5 million people by 2050.1

Alzheimer’s is a physical brain disease characterised by the impairment of brain functions such as impaired memory, language, thinking and behaviour. It is a progressive disease caused by the gradual degeneration of brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease can broadly be categorised into two areas:2

Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease can affect adults at any age, but occurs most often after age 65. This is the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease and affects people who may or may not have a family history of the disease.

Familial Alzheimer’s disease is a much less common form in which the disease is passed directly from one generation to another.

A person is usually said to have early onset Alzheimer’s when they develop the condition in their 20s and by their 40s are severely affected by their symptoms. But Alzheimer’s more commonly appears in older adults, with the risk of developing the condition doubling every five years after the age of 60.3

  1. Dementia Australia 2019, ‘Dementia statistics’, viewed 21st May 2019, https://www.dementia.org.au/statistics
  2. Dementia Australia 2019, ‘Alzheimer’s disease’, viewed 21st May 2019, https://www.dementia.org.au/information/about-dementia/types-of-dementia
  3. Alzheimer’s Association 2019, ‘ Risk factors for Alzheimer’s’ ,viewed 21st May 2019, https://www.alz.org/au/dementia-alzheimers-australia.asp