Page Outline
  1. What is Alzheimer’s disease?
  2. Are there any warning signs?
  3. How do you treat Alzheimer’s disease?
  4. Is there anything a person can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
  5. I am caring for a person with memory loss. What resources are available to me? Are there any classes I can take?
  6. Where can I find support and caregiving tips?
  7. I am seeking long-term care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. What kinds of care are available?
  8. I’m doing research. Where can I find more information about Alzheimer’s disease?
  9. What can I do to help?

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s (AHLZ-high-merz) disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation, as well as delusions or hallucinations. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 70 percent of cases of dementia. Individuals experiencing dementia-like symptoms should undergo diagnostic testing as soon as possible. Read more about Alzheimer's Disease

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Are there any warning signs?

The Alzheimer’s Association believes that it is critical for people with dementia and their families to receive information, care and support as early as possible. To help family members and health care professionals recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the Association has developed a list of common symptoms. Read more about warning signs

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How do you treat Alzheimer’s disease?

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's. But drug and non-drug treatments may help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms. Researchers are looking for new treatments to alter the course of the disease and improve the quality of life for people with dementia. Read more about treatments

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Is there anything a person can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease has no known single cause, but in the last 15 years scientists have learned a great deal about factors that may play a role. Scientists have learned that Alzheimer’s disease involves the malfunction or death of nerve cells, but why this happens is still not known. However, they have identified certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and discovered clues about possible strategies to reduce risk.

The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and most individuals with the illness are 65 and older. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent. Another risk factor is family history. Research has shown that those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s are two to three times more likely to develop the disease than those who do not.

However, research is beginning to reveal clues about some potentially controllable risk factors. There appears to be a strong link between serious head injury and future risk of Alzheimer’s. It’s important to protect your head by buckling up your seat belt, wearing your helmet and fall-proofing your home.

Another promising line of research suggests that strategies for overall healthy aging may help keep the brain healthy and may even offer some protection against Alzheimer’s. These measures include eating a healthy diet, staying socially active, avoiding tobacco and excess alcohol, and exercising both body and mind.

Some of the strongest evidence, though, links brain health to heart health. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia appears to be increased by many conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure or cholesterol. You should work with your doctor to monitor your heart health and treat any problems that arise. Read more about the causes of Alzheimer’s

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I am caring for a person with memory loss. What resources are available to me? Are there any classes I can take?

A first step to learning about all of the information and support available to persons with memory loss and their care partners is to call the 24/7 Information Helpline at 1-800-272-3900. Helpline Assistants will connect you with services, classes, tip sheets, support groups and a range of health care options. You may explore some of these resources online. Read more about services, classes and support groups.

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Where can I find support and caregiving tips?

No two people experience Alzheimer’s disease in the same way. As a result, there's no one approach to caregiving. Your caregiving responsibilities can range from making financial decisions, managing changes in behavior, to helping a loved one get dressed in the morning.

Handling these duties is hard work. But by learning caregiving skills, you can make sure that your loved one feels supported and is living a full life. You can also ensure that you are taking steps to preserve your own well-being.

Find out how you can obtain local help and information. Or, review material from the National Alzheimer's Association.

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I am seeking long-term care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. What kinds of care are available?

Long-term care that will support the right level of independence for the changing abilities of someone with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia should be considered when exploring long-term care options. Sometimes adult family homes or assisted living residences offer adequate supervised care. If the dementia is more advanced, it may be necessary to seek 24-hour care in a nursing environment. You may also consider whether there are special needs related to location, ethnic, or religious affiliations, extra security for wandering, or the flexibility to have pets or personal furniture in their rooms. There are a number of online resources to search for services and facilities to suit individual needs in our Online Resources section. For personalized help with learning about long-term care options, please call the 24/7 Information Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

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I’m doing research. Where can I find more information about Alzheimer’s disease?

The Alzheimer’s Association is proud of its role as science leader, catalyst, innovator and partner. Noteworthy developments in 2005 include a substantial increase in clinical trials testing next-generation treatments; hosting of the first-ever International Conference on Prevention of Dementia; and the launch of the quarterly publication Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

Learn more about advances in research.

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What can I do to help?

Today, an estimated 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly 50 percent of those 85 years old and older are affected. An estimated 110,000 people are affected in Minnesota and North Dakota alone. As disturbing as this may seem, you can make a positive difference in the life of someone touched by Alzheimer’s.

Most of the Alzheimer’s Association’s funding comes from generous individuals, companies and organizations in our community. Your gift stays in Minnesota and North Dakota to make a difference in the lives of people facing Alzheimer’s and related diseases! Learn more about ways you can help financially.

Our volunteer program provides another the link between a need and an offer to help! If you have an interest, we’ll do our best to actively engage you! Read more about our volunteer program.

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