What Does the Alzheimer’s Association Do?

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Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s, joining the 5.7 million Americans who already suffer from cognitive impairment. Even more troubling, this already large number is expected to get even larger: It is projected that by 2050, 14 million Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Founded in 1980 by a group of family caregivers and individuals, the Alzheimer’s Association is a voluntary health organization focused on Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. A non-profit, the group provides information for anyone affected by or interested in learning more about the disease on global, national, and local levels. The association currently sponsors hundreds of local chapters which focus on providing nearby resources (such as care referral or support groups), while the national office focuses on providing a nationwide online community through message boards; materials for professionals such as a research database, grant center, and scientific journal, and opportunities for advocating, donating, and volunteering.

The national association also sponsors a 24/7 toll-free hotline (1-800-272-3900) that anyone can call to receive both information and support on understanding memory loss, medications and treatment, referrals to local services and care. When you call the hotline, you get connected to a national representative, who can then connect you to a local chapter or other service provided by the association.

The local chapters are considered to be the on-the-ground resource, while the national body organizes advocacy. Some of the local branches have broken off to form an independent group of their own, like the New York City-based group CaringKind.

Local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association

While each local chapter is unique in size and location, every chapter offers five core services: information and referral for services such as adult day care or assisted living facilities, care consultation (which can be free or attached to an hourly fee), support groups, safety programs though the SafeReturn 24-hour emergency response service, and education. Some chapters also provide training programs for families or professionals and care coordination services, varying in cost (if any) at each location.

However, there are a variety of other local groups for people affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia outside of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Local Alzheimer’s caregiving resources

In addition to its support group finder, hotline, message boards, and educational materials, the Alzheimer’s Association also tries to help the lives of caregivers. These caregiver services include local workshops and training sessions, basic tips and resources on specific caregiver scenarios (such as how to get your loved one with Alzheimer’s to go to sleep, for instance), a caregiver stress check, a care team calendar to coordinate activities like transportation across a caregiving team, and its CareZone app to help caregivers keep their daily lives organized.

National online communities and support

Beyond support groups and local chapters that meet in-person, the website provides a variety of online tools and resources, including:

Professional research materials

Healthcare professionals, researchers, and anyone else interested can find a variety of tools created by the Alzheimer’s Association, including:

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and other advocacy efforts

To help achieve its goal of promoting research to eventually eliminate Alzheimer’s, the organization provides links to donate to the cause, find a nearby Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness and funds, buy awareness-centered apparel, and join the online pledge to support and advocate for the end of the disease.

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