Alzheimer’s: The Who, What, and How

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so this month we’ll be deep-diving into this strikingly common dementia variant.

First, let’s start with the basics: what is Alzheimer’s Disease, who does it affect, and is there anything we can do to prevent it.

A quick Alzheimer’s primer

Alzheimer’s—a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior—is the most common cause of dementia; it accounts for roughly 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.

Here are some more quick statistics to give you an idea of Alzheimer’s effect on the world.

  • More than 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s
  • Worldwide, at least 50 million people are affected
  • In 2020, COVID-19 contributed to a 17% increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths
  • About one-third of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease develop dementia within 5 years of diagnosis

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, there have been many medical advancement in recent years, resulting in:

Earlier diagnosis

Brain-mapping and neuroimaging has helped find problematic brain spots earlier and with more accuracy.

New preventative measures

Links between Alzheimer’s and conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes were uncovered, offering at-risk individuals (and pretty much everyone else) new pathways to dodge Alzheimer’s.

Experimental treatments

Just this month, Yale researchers discovered an experimental drug that actually repaired Alzheimer’s-affected brains in mice. Of course, this research is extremely new, but definitely something to watch.

Alzheimer’s disease causes and risk factors

Experts haven’t determined a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but they have identified certain risk factors, including:

  • Age: Most people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years of age or older.
  • Family history: If you have an immediate family member who has developed the condition, you’re more likely to get it.
  • Genetics: Certain genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean that you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease; it simply raises your risk level.

Other possible risk factors include a history of:

Of course, talking with your doctor will help you learn more about your personal risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

What are some recent Alzheimer’s research updates?

New ways of testing for and treating Alzheimer’s pop up almost on a daily basis. Just glimpsing at two recent scientific discoveries about Alzheimer’s shows how wide-ranging, eclectic, and almost bizarrely specific Alzheimer’s research can be.

Walking speed may indicate possibility of dementia

According to scientists quoted in a CNN report, if your walking pace progressively slows as you age, you may be exhibiting early signs of cognitive decline.

Coffee consumption may reduce Alzheimer’s risk

Researchers discovered a link between the amount of coffee people drink and the rate at which their cognition declines with age. “Analysis of the data showed that habitual coffee drinking was positively associated with the cognitive areas of executive function, attention,” and the PACC score, a test that combines tests for memory, executive function, and cognition.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Everyone has episodes of forgetfulness from time to time. But people with Alzheimer’s disease display certain ongoing behaviors and symptoms that worsen over time. These can include:

  • memory loss affecting daily activities, such as keeping appointments
  • trouble with familiar tasks, such as using a microwave
  • difficulties with problem-solving
  • trouble with speech or writing
  • becoming disoriented about times or places
  • decreased judgment
  • decreased personal hygiene
  • mood and personality changes
  • withdrawal from friends, family, and community

These signs don’t always mean that a person has Alzheimer’s. It’s important to see a doctor to determine the cause.

Symptoms change according to the stage of the disease. In later stages, people with Alzheimer’s often have significant trouble with talking, moving, or responding to what’s happening around them.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease

The only definitive way to diagnose someone with Alzheimer’s disease is to examine their brain tissue after death. But a doctor can use other examinations and tests to assess your mental abilities, diagnose dementia, and rule out other conditions.

The doctor will likely start by taking a medical history. They may ask about your:

From there, your doctor will likely request several tests to help determine if you have Alzheimer’s disease.

Preventing Alzheimer’s

Just as there’s no known cure for Alzheimer’s, there are no foolproof preventive measures. For now, health-promoting lifestyle habits are the best tools we have to prevent cognitive decline.

The following steps may help:

  • Try to quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting benefits your health both immediately and in the long term.
  • Exercise regularly. Getting active reduces the risk of many conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Keep your brain active. Try some cognitive training exercises, such as vocabulary building, learning or teaching new skills, and meditation.
  • Eat well. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain an active social life. Friendships, volunteering, and hobbies are likely to benefit your overall health.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any big changes in your lifestyle.

Alzheimer’s care

As Alzheimer’s progresses, the tasks of daily living require more support. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to start learning about what to expect and what your role may be in your loved one’s future care.

Caregiving is a role that’s typically not easy, but it can also be very rewarding.

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s, here are some ways to plan and prepare for caregiving:

  • Educate yourself. Learn all you can about Alzheimer’s, its stages, and its typical symptoms. (By reading this article, you’re already on the right track!)
  • Connect. Reach out to and connect with family members who can step in to help.
  • Team up. Consider joining a support group for dementia caregivers.
  • Research outside help. Look up professional home care, respite care, and adult day care programs in your area.
  • Take care of yourself, too. Remember that you’ll need support too. Reach out to the people you’re close to, and be open to accepting help.

As a caregiver, it’s important to take care of yourself as well as your loved one. Caregiving has its difficult moments, and the strain of ongoing responsibilities can start to negatively affect your health. As much as possible, a robust care plan should include support for you, too.

This article was brought to you by the Proactive Health Management Plan in partnership with Healthline.

  • Daniel
    Posted at 15:42h, 14 June


  • Raitiesia Collins
    Posted at 15:34h, 14 June

    Full speed ahead on the research for Alzheimer’s

  • Chris Collins
    Posted at 15:21h, 14 June

    Good to know

    Posted at 14:49h, 14 June

    Thank you

  • Lona Franczak
    Posted at 14:36h, 14 June

    I spoke with my Dad’s doctor after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s asking if it was hereditary. He replied that no, this type was not familial however he said that the most important thing in his book, that he tries to tell everyone….. Is to take good care of your teeth!!! I know right?? He said the same plaque on your teeth is the same plaque that gets in your bloodstream causing heart problems and plaque in the areas near the brain which causes Alzheimer’s..

  • Vernon Whitson
    Posted at 14:00h, 14 June

    Very informative

  • Robyn Latham
    Posted at 13:55h, 14 June

    Interesting information.

  • Heather Lacefield
    Posted at 13:48h, 14 June

    Great info

  • Lynn M Ramirez
    Posted at 13:32h, 14 June

    Great information

  • Carol Burnett
    Posted at 13:28h, 14 June

    I have been reading a lot about it and I’m now understanding so much it is very important to know what is going on in your body

  • Chris Barlow
    Posted at 13:05h, 14 June


  • Cynthia Lee
    Posted at 12:56h, 14 June


  • Kristin Phillips
    Posted at 12:55h, 14 June

    thank you

  • Holly Mabry
    Posted at 12:46h, 14 June

    Sad disease

  • Christine Bailey
    Posted at 12:37h, 14 June

    Thank you!!!

  • Christian Scranton
    Posted at 12:33h, 14 June

    Good overview/ reminder about Alzheimer’s Dem.

  • Victor
    Posted at 12:27h, 14 June


  • Rachel Leyden
    Posted at 10:26h, 14 June

    ok i truly had no idea that drinking coffee could help prevent future alzheimers. thats just crazy to me. well cheers to cofee now for me every morning. very good article overall though.

  • Shannon Browning
    Posted at 09:31h, 14 June

    Thank you

  • Kathy A. McLean
    Posted at 03:30h, 14 June

    Thank you!

  • Andra Kiser
    Posted at 22:36h, 13 June


  • Charles+Subke
    Posted at 21:39h, 13 June

    Thank you

  • Kathy a Disbrow
    Posted at 21:04h, 13 June

    Thank you

  • Beto Landa
    Posted at 20:31h, 13 June

    Great inf.

  • Traci Stubbe
    Posted at 19:43h, 13 June