As you and your loved one begin the Alzheimer's journey, we know that the options and services and programs can seem a little overwhelming. We've put together the most common questions we get in the FAQs below but, as always, please do not hesitate to contact us with further questions. We're here to help!

Questions about Alzheimer's disease

What is dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (set of symptoms) characterized by a gradual decline in mental abilities, such as memory, personality, behavior and thought. Dementia symptoms can be caused by any number of different diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Vascular Dementia. When a person exhibits signs of dementia, further medical evaluation is warranted to distinguish what type of dementia he/she may be experiencing, as well as to rule out potentially treatable/reversible causes of cognitive decline, such as vitamin deficiency, thyroid imbalance or depression.

What is Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is one condition that causes dementia. Decline in short-term memroy is commonly an early symptom, with loss of other mental abilities, such as judgement, decision-making ability, self-control, insight and language skills increasing over time. Alzheimer's disease is a physical disease process, characterized by plaques and tangles in the brain of the affected person. Current treatments may delay the progression of symptoms, but do not stop or reverse the underlying disease process.

What are some of the early signs that someone may be experiencing Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia?

Some early warning signs of Alzheimer's disease include:

Memory loss, particularly for recent events;

Difficulty with complex tasks that were once routine, such as managing finances;

Personality changes;

Changes in language skills, such as difficulty in finding the right word when speaking.

Individuals with early-stage dementia or Alzheimer's disease often appear 'normal' at first, but their deficits may interfere with their ability to perform certain tasks and follow daily routines.

What are common symptoms as the disease progresses?

Over time, dementia symptoms become more severe, and the person becomes more dependent upon a caregiver for assistance with activities of daily living.

Memory impairment becomes more pronounced, and the person may experience disorientation to place and/or time.

Increasing language difficulties, impaired ability to perform skilled movement, loss of inhibition and restlessness often occur.

Behavioral changes and/or agitation may take place.

Over time, physical manifestations, such as difficulty with coordinating movements and difficulty swallowing, occur.

What can people living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia do to improve quality of life?

There are many things that people with dementia can do to enhance their daily lives. Programs and services exist to help the affected individual find opportunities for enjoyment, mental activity and social connection. Caregiver services can be invaluable to family members seeking information, support, resources and respite. For more information, contact the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation.

How can I participate in Alzheimer's research?

Many people who have been affected by Alzheimer’s wonder how they can help combat this devastating disease. Volunteering to participate in research is one powerful way. Right now, at least 70,000 volunteers are needed for more than 150 active Alzheimer’s and related clinical trials and studies in the United States. All kinds of people, including healthy older adults, can join in this critical research.

Participating in Alzheimer’s Research: For Yourself and Future Generations, a new booklet from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, explores how to find Alzheimer’s and related studies that might be right for you, the benefits and potential risks to consider, what happens when you join a trial or study, how safety is protected and questions to ask. Read, download, or order free copies of Participating in Alzheimer’s Research online or call the ADEAR Center at 1-800-438-4380. Also, please share this information on social media: Ever thought about joining an #Alz clinical trial or study? Learn what’s involved in a new booklet from #NIH.