Alzheimer's is a progressive disease where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.


Alzheimer’s disease was first described over 100 years ago. Important advances in our understanding of the disease have only been made in the past 25 years.

“Even though Dr. Alzheimer characterized the disease in 1906, it wasn’t until the last few decades that the disease became recognized as a real illness separate from normal aging and other forms of dementia,” said Darryle Schoepp, Ph.D., vice president and therapeutic area head, Neuroscience, MSD.

“Now people are living longer, and we can see how the disease works,” said David Michelson, M.D., vice president, Clinical Neuroscience Research, MSD. “Science is at a place where not only do we understand more about it, but we are exploring ways to do something about it.”

“New technologies are allowing the identification of early disease signs which we hope will allow us to intervene promptly in order to slow or halt progression. That’s the holy grail. What you want to do is to have something that works and to be able to use it before the disease robs people of who they really are,” said Dr. Michelson.


As the journey toward finding a medical solution continues in the worldwide research community, the path forward for current Alzheimer’s disease patients and caregivers remains difficult.

That makes the efforts by many organizations, companies and individuals to raise awareness and offer support even more important.

Patti Kerr
Alzheimer’s disease educator, author and former caregiver

     Understanding how Alzheimer’s disease impacts the patient and the caregiver allows us to raise awareness, to remove some of the stigma and to give people more hope that we can get through this together, said certified Alzheimer’s disease educator, author and former caregiver Patti Kerr.


Listen to Patti Kerr, certified Alzheimer’s disease educator and author, on what all caregivers need to do.