Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia; it starts with memory loss and gets worse over time. There is no cure, but there are treatment options that may improve some symptoms and some treatments aim to slow or delay the progression of 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

Life expectancy for patients with Alzheimer’s disease generally varies between 3 to 10 years after diagnosis.2

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease include1:

Increasing age

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 nearly 40 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease 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).3

Stages of Alzheimer’s disease are pre-clinical, mild, moderate, and severe.1

The earliest and most common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is short-term 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 Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, participating in mentally stimulating activities like reading, playing music, and social activities may also decrease AD risk.1,3

Early diagnosis can benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease by allowing them more time for treatment as well as  long-term planning and family communication. Alzheimer’s disease is typically diagnosed via1,4:

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. A class of medications called anti-amyloid monoclonal antibodies, may slow the protein deposition and brain shrinkage that is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease1,2.

A new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease 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:

A number of websites provide information required for obtaining financial information for patients and their caregivers. Examples include:


  1. Kumar A, Sidhu J, Goyal A, et al. Alzheimer Disease. StatPearls. 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499922/
  2. Zanetti O, Solerte SB, Cantoni F. Life expectancy in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2009;49 Suppl 1:237-243.
  3. World Health Organization. Dementia. March 15, 2023. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia/?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAiAivGuBhBEEiwAWiFmYXomiIv8YfJMe-LdqnH8NMC-ll929dagsPJ2niJIDeMQkbYOH1wnRBoC1oAQAvD_BwE.
  4. National Institute on Aging (NIA). Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet

All URLs accessed on February 14, 2024.

Scientific Council

Marc Agronin, MD

Chief Medical Officer
Frank C. and Lynn Scaduto MIND Institute and Behavioral Health
Miami Jewish Health
Miami, FL

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, MMSc, FAAN

Director, Massachusetts General Hospital
Frontotemporal Disorders Unit
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

Henry & Amelia Nasrallah Endowed Professor
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

Manisha Parulekar, MD, FACP, AGSF, CMD

Director, Division of Geriatrics
Co-director, Center for Memory Loss and Brain Health
Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack, NJ

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

William D. Rhoades, DO, FACP

Chief Medical Officer
Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital
Downers Grove, IL

Marwan Noel Sabbagh, MD, FAAN, FANA

Vice Chairman for Research and Professor
Department of Neurology
Barrow Neurological Institute
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

Neil Skolnik, MD

Professor of Family and Community Medicine
Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA

R. Scott Turner, PhD, MD

Professor of Neurology
Director of the Memory Disorders Program
Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Chuck Vega, MD, FAAFP

Health Sciences Clinical Professor
UC Irvine Department of Family Medicine
Director, UCI Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community
Irvine, CA

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