Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia and is a specific disease. Dementia, not a disease, is a general term for a decline in a person's cognitive functioning, impacting their behavior and interfering with their daily life and activities. Neither Alzheimer's Disease, nor dementia, are a normal part of aging.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. The result of biological changes in the brain and body that can go unnoticed for up to 20 years.
Dementia is a general term for a decline in a person’s cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with daily life and activities, such as memory, language skills, visual perception, problem solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention. Some dementias are reversible if caught early enough and current research is showing that some dementias may be preventable.
*Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia, but not all dementias are caused by Alzheimer's disease.
In 2021, Idaho Legislators provided funding to form the Idaho Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) Program as a public health approach to dementia in Idaho. The Idaho ADRD Program's mission is to expand ADRD awareness, educational opportunities, supports, and services. To learn more or get involved, email the ADRD Program team at ADRD@dhw.idaho.gov.
Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) risk reduction
- Forgetting recently learned information
- Experiencing changes in the ability to plan or solve problems
- Having trouble completing routine tasks of daily life
- Confusion of time and situation
- Vision problems that result in balance challenges, trouble reading and interpreting pictures, judging distance, and determining color
- Struggle to find correct vocabulary and declining conversational skills
- Unable to retrace steps to find missing items, and losing things frequently
- Poor decision-making
- Pulling away from social activities
- Experiencing changes in mood and temperament
- Break a Sweat – it is not too late to create healthy habits. Staying fit impacts the body and the brain
- Hit the Books – formal education will help reduce risks of cognitive decline
- Follow Your Heart – reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes positively improves cognitive health
- Butt Out – smoking contributes to cognitive decline by increasing toxins and decreasing oxygen to the brain
- Heads Up – brain injury can raise risk of cognitive decline and dementias –Wear your seat belt and use a helmet
- Fuel Up Right – eating a balanced diet with higher fruits and veggies can reduce your risk of cognitive decline
- Stump Yourself – give your brain a bit of a challenge, do something different, play a game, or try putting something together
- Catch Some ZZZ’s – not getting enough sleep has been shown to impact memory and thinking
- Take Care of Your Mental Health – prolonged and unaddressed depression, stress, and anxiety are linked to cognitive decline
- Buddy Up – staying socially engaged may support cognitive function
What you can do now
- If you have Medicare, you are entitled to a 3-minute brain health check as part of your free annual wellness visit.
- You can still request a 3-minute brain health check if you have private insurance (check with your insurance for coverage).
- 40% of dementias cases could be delayed or prevented through public health approach.
- Your medications, thyroid, and unaddressed stresses or even depression can impact your cognitive health.
- Early diagnosis can put you in control of determining how you want to live your life and the type of care you would like to receive, instead of leaving it for someone else to make these important decisions.
- An early diagnosis can help you reduce unnecessary healthcare spending, saving those dollars for later.
- If you are diagnosed with a dementia, there could be treatments to reverse or slow the progression if identified early enough.
- Idaho Alzheimer’s Association offers classes & support groups for the early stages of the disease.
- Counseling services for you and your loved ones are available to help navigate the emotions involved.
- The Idaho Health Care Directives and POST have moved to a new location, make sure your most current advanced directive and POST are filled out, signed, and filed.
- Connecting with an elder law attorney can help you determine the steps you need to take that you may have not thought of.
- You are a “caregiver!” Identifying as a caregiver is important to help you locate services and supports, that may be available to you, during this time that you provide care.
- Your person’s local Area Agency on Aging is a good first stop in finding out what resources are available for both the person you care for and yourself.
- Idaho Alzheimer’s Association offers classes & support groups for the caregiver.
- Education on Alzheimer’s disease and dementias is going to help you when things get tough. The Idaho Commission on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association have some great caregiver-specific trainings modules you’ll benefit from.