The Alzheimer’s Association® is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. An estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia. In the United States alone, more than 6 million have Alzheimer’s, and over 11 million are providing unpaid care. In partnership with NFL Alumni Health initiatives our membership has access to addresses this crisis by providing education and support to those who may be facing dementia every day, while advancing critical research toward methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure.
What are Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms eventually grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Learn more with overviews of dementia, Alzheimer’s and what to expect.
Benefits of early diagnosis
It is important to talk to a doctor immediately if you notice memory loss or trouble thinking in yourself or another. Some conditions that cause problems with memory or thinking have other causes and can be treated or cured. While dementia and Alzheimer’s cannot yet be cured, there are treatments.
Early diagnosis gives you more control over important decisions and gives you opportunities such as:
- Treatments that are most effective during the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
- The ability to participate in clinical trials.
- The chance to make lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, that may help your health.
- Time to discuss your care preferences with your family and loved ones.
- Better ability to make financial decisions and plans.
Traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from an impact to the head that affects how the brain normally works. TBI may affect a person’s thinking abilities, including learning and making decisions. Studies found that older adults with a history of moderate TBI have a 2.3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than seniors with no history of head injury, and those with a history of severe traumatic brain injury have a 4.5 times greater risk.
CTE and Alzheimer’s
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive (that is, it gets worse over time) and fatal brain disease related to repeated traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These injuries include concussions and repeated blows to the head. There is no cure or treatment for CTE, but certain medicines may be used to temporarily treat the cognitive (memory and thinking) and behavioral symptoms.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but the Alzheimer’s Association accelerates research toward treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure. There are treatment options that can help with some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and that may slow its progress.
You may also be able to reduce your risk or slow the progress of dementia with certain lifestyle changes.
Care and support resources
Whether you have symptoms of Alzheimer’s or another dementia, have been diagnosed, or are providing care for someone living with dementia, you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association provides care and support resources including, our free 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900). The Association also offers information at alz.org, a community of support, and tools and resources for caregivers, including choosing care options, overcoming stigma and other topics.