AD is the most common type of dementia; it starts with memory loss and gets worse over time. In end-stage disease, many people are dependent on caretakers. There is no cure, but there are treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease.1

Scientists don’t know precisely what causes Alzheimer’s Disease, but it is related to the accumulation of proteins in the brain, specifically amyloid plaques and tau neurofibrillary tangles, that lead to brain degeneration.1

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease include1:


Family History

Traumatic head injury


Cardiovascular disease

Cerebrovascular disease

Higher parental age


Increased homocysteine levels

Presence of Apolipoprotein (APOE) e4 allele

It is estimated that over 24 million people are living with AD worldwide.  Symptoms of the disease usually appear after the age of 65, but can occur in a small percentage of younger patients (early Alzheimer’s).1

The earliest and most common symptom of AD is memory loss. Symptoms tend to get worse as the disease progresses, and include1,2:
  • Memory loss
  • Judgment/problem-solving difficulties
  • Trouble completing familiar tasks
  • Problems communicating, both speaking and writing
  • Time/place confusion
  • Vision/spatial issues
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood changes like apathy and irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Problems with movement

There is no guaranteed method of preventing Alzheimer’s Disease. However, some studies suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle, including diet modifications and regular exercise, may decrease the risk of developing AD. In addition, participating in mentally stimulating activities like reading, playing music, and social activities may also decrease AD risk.1,2

Early diagnosis can benefit people with AD by allowing them more time for treatment as well as  long-term planning and family communication. AD is typically diagnosed via1,2:

Gathering information from family members and caregivers

Physical exam including neurological findings

Cognitive testing, looking at memory, problem-solving, etc.

Blood tests looking for biomarkers

Neuroimaging, like MRI, PET, and other scans

Ruling out other potential causes of dementia

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, several treatment options are available aimed at improving quality of life and cognitive function. Medications like donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine, and memantine may help decrease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Newer medications, like aducanumab, may slow the protein deposition and brain shrinkage that is characteristic of AD1,2.

A new diagnosis of AD can be challenging to both the person affected and their family. Keeping an open line of communication with the healthcare team can help with finding clinical trials and dealing with tough decisions. Future planning, like addressing financial, legal, and end-of-life issues should be addressed as soon as possible. Societies, associations, and support groups can offer both patients and caregivers a place to share concerns, get helpful tips, and receive emotional support. Examples include:


  1. Kumar A, Sidhu J, Goyal A, et al. Alzheimer Disease. StatPearls. 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499922/
  2. National Institute on Aging (NIA). Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

All URLs accessed on November 2, 2022.

Scientific Council

Liana G. Apostolova, MD, MSc, FAAN

Indiana University Distinguished Professor
Barbara and Peer Baekgaard Professor in Alzheimer's Disease Research
Professor in Neurology, Radiology, Medical and Molecular Genetics
Indiana University School of Medicine
Department of Neurology
Indianapolis, IN

Alireza Atri, MD, PhD

Director, Banner Sun Health Research Institute
Banner Health
Sun City, AZ
Lecturer on Neurology, Center for Brain/Mind Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Ariel F. Cole, MD, FAAFP

Program Director, AdventHealth Geriatric Fellowship
Winter Park, FL

Brad Dickerson, MD

Director, Frontotemporal Disorders Unit
Massachusetts General Hospital
Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Richard M. Dupee, MD, MACP, AGSF

Clinical Professor of Medicine
Tufts University School of Medicine
Clinical professor, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University
Chief, Geriatrics Service, Tufts Medical Center
Senior Physician, Pratt Diagnostic Center
Dean ex officio, Office of International Affairs, Tufts University School of Medicine
Boston, MA

James E. Galvin, MD, MPH

Professor of Neurology
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miami, FL

David S. Geldmacher, MD

Professor and Director
Division of Memory Disorders and Behavioral Neurology
Department of Neurology
Heersink School of Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL

George T. Grossberg MD

Professor and Director, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
St. Louis, MO

Scott A. Kaiser, MD

Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health
Pacific Neuroscience Institute
Santa Monica, CA

Diana R. Kerwin, MD, CPI

President, Kerwin Medical Center
Chief, Geriatric Medicine, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
Dallas, TX

Scott McGinnis, MD

Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Frontotemporal Disorders Unit
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA

Giulio M. Pasinetti, MD, PhD

The Saunders Family Chair and Professor of Neurology
Director of the Center for Molecular Integrative Neuroresilience,
Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Professor of Geriatrics and Adult Development
Department of Neurology and Friedman Brain Institute
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY

Marwan N. Sabbagh, MD, FAAN, CCRI

Professor of Neurology
Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders Division
Associate Program Director for Research-Neurology Residency
Barrow Neurological Institute
Research Professor, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
Clinical Professor of Neurology, Creighton University
Phoenix, AZ

Paul E. Schulz, MD

Rick McCord Professor in Neurology
Umphrey Family Professor of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Director, Neurocognitive Disorders Center
Director, Neurocognitive Disorders Fellowship
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston
Houston, TX

Geoffrey C. Wall, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS

John R. Ellis Distinguished Chair of Pharmacy Practice
Professor of Clinical Sciences
Director, Drake Drug Information Center
Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Internal Medicine Clinical Pharmacist
Iowa Methodist Medical Center
Des Moines, IA

David A. Wolk, MD, FAAN

Professor of Neurology
Director, Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA