Alzheimer's disease is caused by a progressive brain disease that
involves abnormal or pathological changes in the brain cells.   The
most common beginning signs of Alzheimer's disease include difficulty
remembering new information and language deficits (e.g.,
word-finding; comprehension).   People with Alzheimer's disease
tend to misplace objects, forget familiar names, and seem generally
forgetful.   As Alzheimer's disease progresses, memory and other
problems become more pronounced.  

Everyone makes memory mistakes, like forgetting a birthday or the
details of a movie.  What is the difference between this and
dementia?

The difficulties seen with dementia are more severe than those
associated with normal aging.  The #1 complaint of people as they get
older is that they can't remember names like they used to be able
to.   However, forgetting the name of an acquaintance you see every
once in a while is different from remembering the name of a spouse
or child.  People often forget something they intended to do or
details of an event, but rarely forget entire events that just
happened.  

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's?

Dementia is a general term that refers to cognitive decline in several
areas of cognitive function.  Alzheimer's disease and other types of
dementia refers to a specific type of neuropathological change that
occurs in the brain causing a form of dementia.   

What happens in the brain in a person with Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is caused by an accumulation in the brain of
abnormal cells that are called "amyloid plaques" and abnormal changes
with the neurons known as "neurofibrillary tangles."   These changes
occur in parts of the brain more than other parts, leading to
differences in behavioral symptoms.  The hippocampus, which is
involved in memory, is affected early in Alzheimer's disease.
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Alzheimer's Disease