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Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias is challenging! In this education module you will find high-level information about the most common dementias; be sure to check out our FAQ section for answers to common questions [1]

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Dementia is not a specific illness but a syndrome or group of symptoms which causes memory problems affecting everyday life. Dementia has a gradual onset and get progressively worse. The burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in 2014 was 5 million people, which is 1.6 percent of the U.S. population in 2014—319 million people. This burden is projected to grow to 13.9 million, nearly 3.3 percent of the population in 2060–417 million people.

An estimated 5% of people over age 65 and 20% of those over 85 have some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60% of all cases of dementia with 15-20% caused by strokes (cerebrovascular dementia) and 15-20% resulting from other neuro-psychological disorders, i.e. Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

The most common types of dementia:

Less common forms of dementia include Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, Posterior Cortical Atrophy, Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, and Korsakoff Syndrome.

Besides Alzheimer’s and dementia, there are several other brain conditions that can cause problems with thinking, memory and behavior. These include: 

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is an illness of the brain that causes nerve cells in the brain to die. It results in disrupted memory, thinking and functioning. While everyone who has Alzheimer’s disease has dementia, not everyone who has dementia has Alzheimer’s disease. The only definite diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease is finding plaques and tangles in the brain during autopsy. There is a somewhat greater risk for people with a family history of the disease. Race or ethnicity does not seem to be a factor. To learn more, visit The Alzheimer’s Association’s website. [6]

Diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s is based on a range of tests:

Here are the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. Memory loss 
  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  3. Problems with language
  4. Disorientation to time and place
  5. Poor or decreased judgment
  6. Problems with abstract thinking
  7. Misplacing things
  8. Changes in mood or behavior
  9. Changes in personality
  10. Loss of initiative

There are three main stages of Alzheimer’s disease:

Mild – 

Moderate –

Severe –

Resources for Caregivers

Use resources such as Area Agency on Aging [8] (AAA). Types of assistance provided by AAAs:

Assistance available through AAAs for persons age 60 and older may include:

Be sure to check out our Resource Directory [9], FAQ [10], and Educational Events Calendar [11] for more great information! Permission is granted to duplicate any and all parts of this page to use in education programs supporting family members caring for elders.

Sources: Alzheimer’s Association  Types of Dementia,  [12]Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Related Conditions [13], Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [14]

Revised March 2022

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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