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November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

November marks Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s disease is a serious public health problem that particularly affects older adults. Although Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, the risk for developing it increases with age. About 5 percent of people ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s disease and about half of people aged 85 years and older may have Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can include a gradual loss of memory, disorientation, difficulty in making judgments, a decline in the ability to perform routine tasks and personality changes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death among American adults and the 5th leading cause of death for people aged 65 years and older. About 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and 15 million people care for a loved one with the disease. Moreover, mortality rates for Alzheimer’s disease are rising, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that continue to decline.

AoA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services Program (ADSSP)

The Administration on Aging (AoA) funds the Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services Program (ADSSP) to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) and their caregivers. Between 2007 – 2010, AoA awarded 69 ADSSP cooperative agreements to States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to implement evidence-based projects across the U.S. Evidence-based cooperative agreements are awarded to implement programs that have been proven effective in helping individuals with ADRD and their caregivers. Outcomes of these funded projects have included enabling persons in the earliest stages of their disease to plan for their long term care; teaching families techniques to reduce stress often associated with care giving and providing services for caregivers of veterans with ADRD.

This year AoA also offered several webinars that focused on the needs of people with ADRD, their caregivers and health professionals. Topics covered by the webinars included a review of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, on-line tools and resources available to assist individuals with dementia and caregivers, and basic information for the Aging Network on symptoms, diagnoses and treatments. The transcripts and audio files of these webinars are available on the ADSSP page.

Also, this year the Department of Health and Human Services launched, which serves as a comprehensive resource on Alzheimer’s disease for consumers. It offers a broad range of tools and information, including information on symptoms, treatment options, tips on how to develop a financial and legal care plan and news on recent medical research. The site is also available in Spanish at

What Can I Do to Promote Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness?

The following are a few steps that you can take to heighten awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and the resources available to help people with ADRD:

  • Share information on resources in your newsletters or via Twitter and Facebook. There are many resources available with information on Alzheimer’s disease. See below for a listing of resources.
  • Organize an event in your community to honor caregivers who care for a loved one with ADRD.
  • Volunteer to help coordinate activities sponsored by your local Area Agency on Aging or Alzheimer’s Association chapter.

Join us in recognizing Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. As the population in the U.S. ages, more people are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementias. Awareness of services and supports can help people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers manage the illness and control its impact on their lives.