Alzheimer’s disease may also have an impact on young people

Alzheimer’s disease may also have an impact on young people

When a friend or family member has Alzheimer’s disease, kids and teens may feel upset, confused or scared. Our Kids and Teens page offers videos and other resources for young people to learn about Alzheimer’s and to understand how it affects them.
Visit our Kids and Teens page >>

When a friend or family member has Alzheimer’s disease, you may feel upset, confused or scared. Alzheimer’s can be puzzling because a person who has it often doesn’t look sick.

Some people with early stage Alzheimer’s may forget words or not remember your name sometimes. Otherwise you may not notice too many changes. But, when you spend time with people with later stage Alzheimer’s, it is easy to see that something serious is going on. Some people with Alzheimer’s may cry, become angry very easily or behave in ways that embarrass you. Sometimes the person may not remember who you are, even if it is someone like a grandparent who knows you very well.

People with Alzheimer’s disease are not acting like this because they don’t care about you anymore. Changes deep inside their brains are destroying the centers that control remembering, thinking and feeling. They are losing their ability to make sense out of the world.

This page provides resources to help you learn about Alzheimer’s disease and understand how it affects you. It’s important to know that you are not alone. Alzheimer’s changes the lives of everyone it touches.

New Videos for Kids

Kids Look at Alzheimer’s Disease
Does someone in your family have Alzheimer’s disease?  Spend a few moments watching the videos below to learn about the disease and how kids like you are dealing with it. 

Part 1: What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Maybe someone you know has Alzheimer’s disease but you don’t even know what it is! Watch this video to get the facts.

Part 2: What Can I Expect and How Can I Deal With It?
You may wonder about what the changes are that will come because of Alzheimer’s disease. Will things be different for you or your family? Watch this video to learn how you can keep talking and having fun with the person with Alzheimer’s.

Part 3: Is it Me or Is It the Disease?
Does it seem like the person you know with Alzheimer’s is changing? You’re right! Watch this video to find out more about those changes and how to talk about them with friends and family.

Part 4: How Can I Help and What’s Out There to Help Me?
There are lots of ways for kids to make a difference in the lives of those with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Watch this video to find out what you can do to help.

Purple Week Project
Purple Week for Alzheimer’s
Watch the video and see what three young girls can do with an idea about teaching kids about Alzheimer’s disease and raising money for the cause. “Go Purple Week!!”

The Process and Working with Student Council
Julie’s three young daughters developed a “Purple Week” project with their school. Watch the video to get more information about the project and what it provided to the children and teachers.

Our resources can clear up misunderstandings about dementia

Our resources can clear up misunderstandings about dementia

Dementia is sometimes incorrectly referred to as “senility” or “senile dementia,” which reflects the formerly widespread belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging. What is dementia? We have answers to that question and others.
Find out more about Alzheimer’s and dementia >>

ementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.

About Dementia

Risk & Prevention

Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptomsassociated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.

Dementia is often incorrectly referred to as “senility” or “senile dementia,” which reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging.

Learn more: Common Types of Dementia, What is Alzheimer’s?

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Find out what how typical age-related memory loss compares to early signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Learn the signs.

While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.

Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don’t ignore them. See a doctor soon to determine the cause. Professional evaluation may detect a treatable condition. And even if symptoms suggest dementia, early diagnosis allows a person to get the maximum benefit from available treatments and provides an opportunity to volunteer for clinical trials or studies. It also provides time to plan for the future.

Learn more: 10 Warning Signs, 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s

Many people have memory loss issues — this does not mean they have Alzheimer’s or another dementia

There are many different causes of memory problems. If you or a loved one is experiencing troubling symptoms, visit a doctor to learn the reason. Some causes of dementia-like symptoms can be reversed.
Learn more: Visiting Your Doctor


Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behavior and feelings can be affected.

The brain has many distinct regions, each of which is responsible for different functions (for example, memory, judgment and movement). When cells in a particular region are damaged, that region cannot carry out its functions normally.

Take our interactive Brain Tour.

Different types of dementia are associated with particular types of brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain. For example, in Alzheimer’s disease, high levels of certain proteins inside and outside brain cells make it hard for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate with each other. The brain region called the hippocampus is the center of learning and memory in the brain, and the brain cells in this region are often the first to be damaged. That’s why memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

While most changes in the brain that cause dementia are permanent and worsen over time, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or addressed:

  • Depression
  • Medication side effects
  • Excess use of alcohol
  • Thyroid problems
  • Vitamin deficiencies

There is no one test to determine if someone has dementia. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia based on a careful medical history, a physical examination, laboratory tests, and the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day function and behavior associated with each type. Doctors can determine that a person has dementia with a high level of certainty. But it’s harder to determine the exact type of dementia because the symptoms and brain changes of different dementias can overlap. In some cases, a doctor may diagnose “dementia” and not specify a type. If this occurs it may be necessary to see a specialist such as a neurologist or gero-psychologist.

Learn more: Memory Tests

Dementia help and support are available

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association is one of the most trusted resources for information, education, referral and support.
Call our 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900
Visit our online Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center
Locate a support group in your community
Visit our Virtual Library

Dementia treatment and care

Treatment of dementia depends on its cause. In the case of most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression. But there are drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms. The samemedications used to treat Alzheimer’s are among the drugs sometimes prescribed to help with symptoms of other types of dementias. Non-drug therapies can also alleviate some symptoms of dementia.

Ultimately, the path to effective new treatments for dementia is through increased research funding and increased participation in clinical studies. Right now, at least 50,000 volunteers are urgently needed to participate in more than 100 actively enrolling clinical studies and trials about Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

Learn more: Medications for Memory Loss, Alternative Treatments for Alzheimer’s

Dementia risk and prevention

Some risk factors for dementia, such as age and genetics, cannot be changed. But researchers continue to explore the impact of other risk factors on brain health and prevention of dementia. Some of the most active areas of research in risk reduction and prevention include cardiovascular factors, physical fitness, and diet.

Cardiovascular risk factors: Your brain is nourished by one of your body’s richest networks of blood vessels. Anything that damages blood vessels anywhere in your body can damage blood vessels in your brain, depriving brain cells of vital food and oxygen. Blood vessel changes in the brain are linked to vascular dementia. They often are present along with changes caused by other types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. These changes may interact to cause faster decline or make impairments more severe. You can help protect your brain with some of the same strategies that protect your heart – don’t smoke; take steps to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar within recommended limits; and maintain a healthy weight.

Physical exercise: Regular physical exercise may help lower the risk of some types of dementia. Evidence suggests exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain.

Diet: What you eat may have its greatest impact on brain health through its effect on heart health. The best current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, also may help protect the brain. A Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats.

Learn more: Brain Health

Early-stage Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis brings couple closer

Early-stage Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis brings couple closer

Ellen and Michael McVay thought something might be wrong with Ellen when she was driving and froze when making a left turn. Ellen, now 64, was soon diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, joining the ranks of the more than 5 million Americans with the disease, and Michael became one of the 15.4 million people caring for them. It took a while for her diagnosis to sink in, but the couple says it has brought them closer. Ellen is a new member of the Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Advisory Group, which helps the Association provide the most appropriate services for people living with early-stage Alzheimer’s, raise awareness about early-stage issues and advocate with legislators to increase funding for research and support programs.
Read the article >>
Learn about early-stage caregiving >>

Sharing your story has never been more important – dementia

We know that early and accurate diagnosis leads to better outcomes and higher quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their families. Yet, the federal government has said there is insufficient evidence that a diagnostic test called ‘brain amyloid imaging’ improves health outcomes.
Thankfully the decision is not yet final. Make your voice heard if you have had firsthand experience with dementia diagnosis and care, for yourself or a loved one. If you and your family experienced challenges in obtaining a diagnosis, or if an accurate diagnosis has allowed you and your family to better plan and manage the disease,please share your experience.
Your story could make a big difference in the future of how Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed and treated. We can’t afford to postpone important tools that are ready to help doctors provide better Alzheimer’s care today.
Please, share your story and we humbly ask you to forward this message along to others who might be able to help.

Reminiscing about baseball helps Cardinals fans cope with Alzheimer’s

Reminiscing about baseball helps Cardinals fans cope with Alzheimer’s

Participants in the Cardinals Reminiscence League have two things in common: early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and a love of the St. Louis Cardinals. The group meets twice a month at the Alzheimer’s Association St. Louis Chapter to talk about baseball and to share and preserve memories.
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