Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

About Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

When people think of dementia, they usually associate it with memory loss. In reality, it involves far more than that. Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It seriously alters a person’s brain functions.

People with dementia can lose the ability to do normal activities, like eating or getting dressed. Their personalities can change, and they may be unable to control their moods and emotions. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

As you age, your brain changes, just like the rest of your body. Many people often notice gradually increasing forgetfulness—for instance, it may take longer to think of a word or to recall a person's name. But consistent or increasing concern about memory or mental performance, or memory loss that disrupts daily life, is not a part of normal aging.

Alzheimer’s disease, which affects over 5.4 million Americans, causes a progressive decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. In its later stages, it can cause people to lose the ability to do everyday tasks, speak, and even recognize family members and friends. 

Symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

Alzheimer’s disease usually begins after age 60, but it can occur sooner. If you or someone you love is experiencing any warning signs, talk with your primary care doctor about a referral to a specialist.

You may be referred to a clinical neuropsychologist, who will administer a neuropsychological assessment. This assessment comprehensively evaluates cognitive abilities using objective measures of brain functioning to diagnosis and differentiate types of dementia. Learn more about neuropsychological assessment.

Treatment Options

While there are currently no known cures for Alzheimer’s disease, some treatments help to improve symptoms. Our Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence will give you or your loved one an accurate diagnosis and provide comprehensive treatment, education, and support, through collaboration with ThedaCare’s primary care doctors and the community. Talk to your primary care doctor about a referral.

Find a primary care doctor  

Therapy Groups and Events

Group sessions can help caregivers cope with the stresses of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Get an idea of what therapy groups are like.

Learn about therapy groups