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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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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.

Recommended Related to Alzheimer's

10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Are you worried about your mental sharpness? Or maybe that of a loved one’s? Mild forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. If you have trouble remembering someone's name but it comes to you later, that's not a serious memory problem. But if memory problems are seriously affecting your daily life, they could be early signs of Alzheimer's disease. While the number of symptoms you have and how strong they are vary, it’s important to identify the early signs. You need to ask yourself some tough...

Read the 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s article > >

  • 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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