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Alzheimer's Disease - What Happens

Researchers have discovered changes that take place in the brains of people who have Alzheimer's disease. These brain changes may cause the memory loss and decline in other mental abilities that occur with Alzheimer's disease. It's not fully understood why these brain changes occur in some people but not in others.

Alzheimer's disease gets worse over time, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. Some people may still be able to function relatively well until late in the course of the disease. Others may lose the ability to do everyday activities very early on.

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Alzheimer's and Sleep Problems

People with Alzheimer’s disease go through many changes, and sleep problems are often some of the most noticeable. Most adults have changes in their sleep patterns as they age. But the problems are more severe and happen more often for people with Alzheimer’s.  You might notice that your loved one: Sleeps a lot more than usual, including taking naps during the day. This is common for people in the early stages of the disease. Has trouble falling asleep or wakes up a lot at night. When...

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  • The disease tends to get worse gradually. It usually starts with mild memory loss. It progresses to severe mental and functional problems and eventual death.
  • Symptoms sometimes are described as occurring in early, middle, and late phases. It's hard to predict how long each phase will last.
  • The average amount of time a person lives after developing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is 8 to 10 years.

A person with severe dementia becomes more vulnerable to other illnesses, such as pneumonia.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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