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Alzheimer's Disease

Difference Between Alzheimer's Disease and Lack of Mental Activity



Is there a difference between Alzheimer`s Disease and not exercising your brain? My mother retired two years ago and is not very active physically or mentally. How can I distinguish between the two?


There is indeed a difference between AD and not using your brain, but it may not be easy to tell them apart. Alzheimer`s disease results from loss of brain cells in predictable parts of the brain, and with a very distinctive appearance under the microscope in those who have autopsies after death. These changes do not appear with healthy aging, regardless of how active the mind is.

However, Alzheimer`s frequently results in a condition of mental inactivity or apathy. This comes across as the person REDUCING the number of things that they do without reminders, cues or instructions. Apathy can be the first sign of developing AD. If you are observing a recent reduction in spontaneity and mental activity, then a medical evaluation is necessary.

Related Resources:

National Alzheimer's Association

For more information:

Go to the Alzheimer's Disease health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jon Stuckey, PhD
Case Western Reserve University

David   Geldmacher, MD David Geldmacher, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University