Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias, 1 unitPage 5 of 10

3. What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia. About 5 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s. AD is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and it affects women more than men. About two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014).

The first thing you will notice in someone with Alzheimer’s disease is that they have trouble making new memories. This is called short-term memory loss. This happens because the part of the brain where new memories are formed becomes damaged by dementia.

Long-ago memories are stored in a part of the brain that is not affected by Alzheimer’s dementia. Especially at first, people can remember and talk about events from earlier times in their lives. As the dementia gets worse and more of the brain is affected, long ago memories might also start to fade.

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