Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia

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)
Fax: 301-495-3334

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.
National Headquarters
225 North Michigan AVE, FL 17
Chicago, IL 60601-7633
Helpline: 800-272-3900

Alzheimer’s Association, MA/NH Chapter  – Information, support  and resources for people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
480 Pleasant Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Phone: 617-868-6718

Dementia Friendly Massachusetts (DFM)  –  What is Dementia Friendly Massachusetts (DFM)?  Dementia Friendly Massachusetts is an initiative of the Massachusetts Councils on Aging and a member of Dementia Friendly America.  The state-wide grassroots movement, generously supported by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, comprised of organizations, individuals, and municipalities growing dementia friendly communities.

Dementia Friendly Massachusetts Map

Alzheimer’s Centers and Support in Massachusetts:

Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease CenterOffers research studies, clinical trials, Health Outreach Program for the Elderly (HOPE) and other programs.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment (CART) – Offers clinical trials, memory disorders unit and  resources for patients and caregivers.

Massachusetts General Hospital Dementia Co-Management & Caregiver Support Program – This program is a new initiative of the MGH Division of Palliative Care and Geriatric Medicine. Our mission is to create a comprehensive care model for individuals with dementia, their families and caregivers.

Alzheimer’s Family Support Center of Cape Cod – The Alzheimer’s Family Support Center of Cape Cod is here to help families and individuals live their fullest lives.

Memory Cafes in Massachusetts – Find Massachusetts Memory Cafes near you and enjoy a “dementia-friendly” outing with your loved one.

Other Information:

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 may 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.

Alzheimer’s Association Early Stage Caregiving – In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, most people function independently. He or she may still drive, take part in social activities, volunteer and even work. Your role as care partner is an important one: to provide support and companionship, and help plan for the future.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Alzheimer’s Disease Information – Available in English and Spanish

Healthline Everything You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s Disease – Facts, causes, symptoms, stages and other information provided.

National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet – Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.

National Institute on Aging Understanding Alzheimer’s Genes (pdf) –  Easy-to-read brochure for people who have questions related to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if a family member has also had the disease.

Safe ReturnThe Alzheimer’s Association, in collaboration with MedicAlert® Foundation, provides membership plans with 24/7 Wandering Support.

Today’s Caregiver Magazine –  Has Alzheimer’s articles on website.

US National Library of Medicine – Alzheimer’s Disease basics.

Fact Sheet last updated on: 8/21/2020


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