All Topics

Help With Alzheimer's Disease

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. It is one of the most common forms of dementia, a group of symptoms that lead to a decline in mental function severe enough to disrupt daily life. Alzheimer’s causes problems with a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Nov 20, 2015
Caring for the Caregivers

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a great time to recognize and support the people caring for others

  • Oct 23, 2015
This Halloween, Stigma Shouldn’t Be in Fashion

Stigma is a barrier to care for people with mental illness; more than one in four people cite stigma as a reason that they do not seek care. Being mindful about the way that we portray mental illness is important to help reduce stigma.

  • Oct 09, 2015
A Brief Mental Health Checkup

We often focus more on treating illnesses, both physical and mental, than on staying healthy. But the absence of mental illness does not necessarily mean good mental health.

Upcoming Events
National Family Caregivers Month
  • Sun,  Nov  01 - Mon,  Nov  30
National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
  • Sun,  Nov  01 - Fri,  Oct  30
Care Connection Teleconference
  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
  • Thur,  Nov  12
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Care Connection Teleconference
  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
  • Thur,  Dec  10
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

I understand there are medications that can help with Alzheimer’s. Are there medications that actually help slow memory loss? Are they appropriate for everyone with Alzheimer’s?

There are no medications available today which slow memory loss over an extended period of time. The medications approved for Alzheimer’s have been shown in controlled studies to slow memory loss over a few months, but after 6-12 months, memory decline in those who take the medications is similar to those who do not take the medications. New drugs are being studied, and hopefully one or more will demonstrate a clear ability to reduce or stop the decline in memory impairment (we should not expect any of the drugs to restore memory loss). More

My father-in-law is experiencing some memory problems. At what point should he seek help?

It is always a good plan to have your father-in-law examined by an experienced geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist when signs of memory loss emerge. The reason is that memory loss may not be due to Alzheimer’s or another irreversible dementia. Medications, an acute illness, or even a brain tumor may be causing the problem. Nevertheless, over the long run for the vast majority of persons with memory loss, it is important to monitor function carefully. Occasional forgetfulness, such as forgetting names, is not a major problem. Yet when the older adult begins to leave the stove on, repeatedly loses his car keys and cannot locate them, cannot keep up with usual personal business (such as banking) or cannot find his way home driving from a familiar place, then help (often from a social worker) is most important to maintain independent living as long as possible. Alzheimer’s support groups are found in most communities and they can be of great assistance to people with Alzheimer’s and their families. You can start with your state or local office on aging or a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. More

My mom has memory problems that are really impacting her life, but she’s refusing to seek evaluation or help. What can we do?

In such situations, I will revert to the “family conference.” In such a setting, all significant members of the family (spouse if living, children, siblings) meet alone first and agree on the significance of the problem and what needs to be done with the assistance of a social worker who is skilled in the day-to-day management of memory problems. A plan is devised. Then the family meets with the older adult and as a group virtually insists that the older adult seek help, if not for her sake, then for the sake of the family. Have an appointment already set up. Have at least two family members go with the older adult to the evaluation and make certain that the family (in the presence of the older adult) express to the clinician the problems that have been noticed. This approach works most of the time IF the family is in agreement and speaks as one voice. More

About the Expert:

Dan G. Blazer, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Professor in Community and Family Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine

Roger’s Story


Roger, a 71-year-old man, was referred to a psychiatrist by his primary care doctor for symptoms of depression that had not responded to medication. Roger’s wife reported that he had begun to change at age 68, about a year after his retirement. He had stopped playing golf and cards, which he had enjoyed for decades. He no longer looked forward to going out of the house, and he refused to socialize. Instead, he sat on the couch all day and watched TV or napped. His wife said he was sleeping 10-13 hours a day instead of his normal seven hours. more

Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Find a Psychiatrist

Find a psychiatrist in your area today.

Search Now

APA Resources

Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5

Understanding Mental Disorders is a consumer guide designed to promote education and understanding among anyone who has been touched by mental illness.

Editor's Choice
  • October 16, 2015

OHSU discovers a better way to measure Alzheimer's progression
Portland Business Journal

Clinical trials for new Alzheimer’s disease treatments could be made quicker, more efficient and more accurate by using new technology to track the behaviors of patients.More

  • October 15, 2015

Sandy's Story: Fighting Alzheimer's
NewsChannel 3, Hampton Roads,VA

For nearly three years CNNs Dr. Sanjay Gupta followed Alzheimer’s patient Sandy Helpiern’s brave struggle against dementia. More

  • October 14, 2015

Researcher presents new hope for Alzheimer's early detection
Charlotte Observer

A Duke University researcher will visit a memory care center in Charlotte this month to talk about an eye scan that could detect Alzheimer's disease before symptoms appear. More