Common Questions

I believe my wife has Alzheimer's disease. How can I get her to see her doctor?

If your wife is reluctant to see her doctor, this can be a tricky situation. She may not be aware of the changes in her abilities that you see. You might try one the following:

  • Make sure the doctor knows of your concerns before the appointment takes place. Be as specific as possible. This checklist can help you prepare for your doctor’s visit.
  • Suggest she go for an annual check-up. She may be more comfortable getting an overall check-up than seeing the doctor for memory problems. Many symptoms that look like Alzheimer's disease can be caused by other treatable conditions, so it's important to get a thorough assessment if you have concerns.
  • Contact the doctor's office directly. Explain your concerns and ask if she or he will invite your wife in for a check-up. She might be more willing if the doctor suggests the appointment.
My mother died of Alzheimer's disease and I'm worried that I might get it. Is it hereditary?

There are two types of Alzheimer's disease. Familial autosomal dominant (FAD) Alzheimer’s disease occurs in less than 5% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease and has a genetic link. For FAD to occur, the disease needs to be apparent over several generations of one family. Sporadic Alzheimer's disease is more common (90-95 per cent) and people with this type may or may not have a family history of the disease. Learn more about Genetics and Risk Factors.

The doctor told my father he is in the middle stage of Alzheimer's disease. What does this mean?

The process of Alzheimer's disease can be described as a series of stages. Staging Alzheimer's disease gives people with the disease, doctors and caregivers a general guide to the pattern of the disease. This can help them make care decisions throughout the course of the disease.

Because the disease affects each individual differently, the symptoms, the order in which they appear and the duration of each stage vary from person to person. In most cases, the disease progresses slowly, and the symptoms of each stage may overlap, often making the move from one stage to another quite subtle. See the Stages of Alzheimer’s disease section for more information about the different stages (early, middle, late and end of life) or the seven stages described in the Global Deterioration Scale. Whichever staging system is used, it's important to remember that the disease affects each person differently.

Can a person die of Alzheimer's disease?

Yes. Alzheimer's disease is a fatal, progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, where brain cells continue to die over time. There is no cure and eventually the body will shut down.

Can the family doctor diagnose Alzheimer's disease?

A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease requires a comprehensive assessment. Family doctors are often able to do this assessment during a series of office visits, or she may refer the patient to a memory clinic or specialist, such as a geriatrician or neurologist. We invite you to contact your local Alzheimer Society to find professionals in your community who can help.

Can depression bring on symptoms like those in Alzheimer's disease?

Depression can have symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease and can occur simultaneously with Alzheimer’s disease. It is important to see a doctor if these symptoms are present. Depression can often be treated successfully. See our list of 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's disease for more information.

Can people get Alzheimer's disease in their 40s?

Age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, but Alzheimer's disease can affect people under the age of 65. This is usually called "early or young onset Alzheimer's disease."

What do I do if I am concerned about my memory?

If you are concerned about your memory, find out more about the 10 warning signs of dementia. If you are worried that your memory is getting noticeably worse and if memory problems are beginning to affect your everyday life, it is important to visit your doctor right away.

Is the number of people with dementia going down?

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

It’s true that some types of dementia are declining in percentage of growth due to changes in our lifestyle, environment and better management of health problems such as heart attack and stroke, two factors that can cause cognitive impairment.

However, it’s important to note the number of people across the globe with dementia is climbing, and as baby boomers age, dementia is becoming a health crisis.

Note: the information in this site is not presented as a substitute for informed medical advice. Please see your doctor or other qualified health-care provider for more information about your own situation.

Last Updated: 08/25/2018