Facebook Twitter Instagram You Tube Pinterest LinkedIn RSS Podcasts Video Library Blog
 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias

What are Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias?

Dementia may be diagnosed when a significant decline in intellectual functioning can be documented. Alzheimer’s disease is the best known of several different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by abnormal clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (neurofibrillary tangles) in the brain.

The plaques and tangles are composed of misplaced proteins. Age is the most important risk factor for Alzheimer’s; the number of people with the disease doubles every five years beyond age sixty-five. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, though some new medications appear to slow the progression of the disease in some individuals.

Internet Resources

Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association contains information developed specifically for caregivers and patients. If you are in Chicago, visit their headquarters at 225 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1700. The Benjamin B. Green-Field Library and Resource Center, located at this address, is the nation’s largest library devoted to Alzheimer’s disease.

The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration
Frontotemporal degeneration encompasses a range of disorders, from progressive aphasia to Pick’s disease and more. As research has revealed more information about dementia, diagnoses of individual types has become more exact. This organization provides support and advocacy for patients, their primary caregivers, and the health professionals who provide medical care.

Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer Disease Center
This multi-departmental center within Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine contains significant information for patients, families, and the public on various types of dementia.

MedlinePlus: Alzheimer’s Disease
Developed at the National Library of Medicine specifically for consumers, this site is a portal for both government-sponsored and privately developed health information for the lay public.


  • The caregiver’s path to compassionate decision making: making choices for those who can’t. Kind V. 2010.
  • Alzheimer’s advisor: a caregiver’s guide to dealing with the tough legal and practical issues. James VE. 2009.
  • Alzheimer disease and other dementias: a practical guide. Agronin. 2008.
  • The 10 best questions for living with Alzheimer’s : the script you need to take control of your health. Bonner D. 2008.
  • Comfort of home for Alzheimer’s disease: a guide for caregivers. Meyer M. 2008.
  • Alzheimer’s essentials : practical skills for families & caregivers. Gordeau BC. 2007.
  • Alzheimer’s from the inside out. Taylor R. 2007.
  • Inside Alzheimer’s: how to hear and honor connections with a person who has dementia. Pearce N. 2007.
  • Caregiver’s guide to Alzheimer’s disease. Callone PR. 2006.
  • The 36-hour day: a family guide to caring for persons with Alzheimer disease, related dementing illnesses, and memory loss in later life. Mace NL. 2006.
  • Search our collection for many more resources concerning Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Alzheimer’s disease: inside looking out. 19 min.
  • Recognizing and responding to emotions in persons with dementia. 25 min.
  • Ask about our videos for caregivers.


Call the helpline of the Alzheimer’s Association, 800.272.3900. For frontotemporal dementia, e-mail info@theaftd.org or call 866.507.7222.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Center at 312.926.5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateFebruary 17, 2014