Dementia is a syndrome (collection of symptoms) characterized by a decline in intellectual and social abilities that affects daily activities. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a process which involves both clinical dementia and microscopic changes in the brain. No single test can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, with the exception of a brain biopsy or an autopsy.
Alzheimer’s disease gradually produces abnormalities in certain areas of the brain. The two principle changes are senile or neurotic plaques (chemical deposits on the brain) and neurofibrillary tangles (malformations within the nerve cells). The brains of people of all ages with Alzheimer’s disease reveal these abnormalities on autopsy examination. The particular behavior of the individual suffering from Alzheimer’s will depend on which area of the brain is most affected by the disease.
Information on what assistance is available in a given community can be gained by contacting the local Councils on Aging (COA) or Aging Service Access Points (ASAP).
Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR) – The ADEAR Center has a staff of Information Specialists available to assist you with answers to your specific questions about AD, referrals to supportive services and resources.
PO Box 8250
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8250
Toll Free: 800-438-4380 Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 – 5:00 (Eastern Time)
Alzheimer’s Association – The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to provide care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
225 North Michigan AVE, FL 17
Chicago, IL 60601-7633
Alzheimer’s Association, Mass Chapter – Information, support and resources for people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
480 Pleasant Street
Watertown, MA 02472
* “Safe Return Program”applications available. Call chapter for local support groups
Research suggests that the night time sleep cycle of people with Alzheimer’s is disrupted. These people are often awake at night and may dress, pack their clothing, attempt to use the stove, leave the house and wander the streets. For this reason people with Alzheimer’s require constant night time supervision.
Loss of the internal clock means that the person has no sense of the passage of time. This is common and may result in their insisting that it is time to go home immediately upon arrival somewhere, or accusing others of never visiting them or never feeding them. Due to impaired memory in these individuals, explanations may be impossible for them to understand.
*Safe Return is a nationwide identification, support, and registration program that provides assistance to people with Alzheimer’s disease who become lost locally or far from home.
US National Library of Medicine – Alzheimer’s Disease basics
Today’s Caregiver Magazine – Has Alzheimer’s information on website.
Fact Sheet last updated on: 4/12/2019