Alzheimer's disease and related dementias change the way people remember, think, and act. These diseases can be devastating for the individuals who have them and for their families and caregivers. Taking action against Alzheimer’s and related dementias is a priority for the federal government.
The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), signed into law in January 2011, called for a coordinated national plan to accelerate research and improve care and services for people living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their families.
As the economic costs of care continue to climb — along with costs associated with loss of independence and quality of life — we are more driven than ever to discover, develop, disseminate, and implement solutions that will improve the lives of those with dementia, their caregivers, and their communities.
– Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
With guidance from experts and public input, the first National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease was released in 2012 and is updated annually. The plan establishes five ambitious goals to both prevent future cases of Alzheimer's disease, and to better meet the needs of families currently facing this disease:
- Prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's disease by 2025
- Optimize care quality and efficiency
- Expand supports for people with Alzheimer's disease and their families
- Enhance public awareness and engagement
- Track progress and drive improvement
- As many as 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older in 2020 have Alzheimer’s dementia, and its prevalence in the United States is projected to increase to 13.8 million people by 2050.
- Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia diagnosis, many people have other forms of dementia such as Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal disorders, and vascular cognitive impairment, either alone or, more commonly, mixed with Alzheimer’s changes.
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death for Americans. In 2017, it accounted for an estimated 120,000 deaths.
- An analysis conducted by NIH-supported researchers found that total social costs from health care and caregiving spending for a person with probable dementia in the last five years of life was an estimated $287,000, compared with $175,000 for an individual with heart disease and $173,000 for someone with cancer.
Agencies across the federal government support efforts to carry out the National Plan. Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Defense work to coordinate research and services across agencies, accelerate the development of treatments, improve early diagnosis and coordination of care, reduce ethnic and racial disparities in rates and burden of dementia, and coordinate with international efforts to fight these conditions. Within HHS, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Administration for Community Living, Health Resources and Services Administration, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Indian Health Service, and Administration for Children and Families all support implementation of the National Plan. Of these, three agencies, highlighted below, in particular play a key role.
NIH: Research to Treat and Prevent Dementia
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is made up of Institutes, Centers, and Offices that conduct and fund research into all aspects of human health. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) leads NIH’s efforts in clinical, behavioral, and social research in Alzheimer's and related dementias through efforts aimed at finding ways to treat and ultimately prevent the disorder. NIA collaborates closely with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which manages a research portfolio targeting Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias. NIA and NINDS work with Institutes and Centers across NIH to fund related projects. NIH also collaborates with the Department of Veterans Affairs to leverage health data from millions of older veterans to contribute to Alzheimer’s research.
NIH-funded research is conducted both in NIH laboratories and at institutions and small businesses around the country. A cornerstone of NIH’s Alzheimer’s research is a group of more than 30 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers across the U.S. These centers conduct research to advance scientific discoveries, provide research resources for the broader research community, and work to translate research advances into improved diagnosis, treatment, and care. NIA also supports several large infrastructure programs designed to support drug development, scientific collaboration, data sharing, and clinical research.
In addition, NIA and NINDS have announced the development of a groundbreaking new research center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Research (CARD) will bring together scientists from multiple NIH Institutes and Centers to support basic, translational, and clinical research on Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The center’s efforts will complement and enhance the work of thousands of researchers working across the globe to find a treatment or cure for these diseases.
Learn more about the research activities and progress supported by NIH.
Another NIA-supported service is the Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral Center (ADEAR), which provides information for people with dementia, their families, and health professionals. The ADEAR Center offers free publications online and in print, referrals to support services and research centers, clinical trials information, and customized responses to public inquiries about dementia. To speak to a specialist, contact ADEAR via email or phone at 800-438-4380.
CDC: Public Health Efforts for Dementia Prevention and Care
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the nation’s public health agency. CDC’s Alzheimer’s and related dementias efforts focus on creating a national public health infrastructure to increase early detection and diagnosis, reduce risk, prevent avoidable hospitalizations, and support dementia caregiving. The CDC’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program (AD+HAP) develops evidence-based, scientific information to educate, inform, and assist in translating CDC research into public health practice.
The CDC’s AD+HAP developed the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map Series to provide direction to the field of public health across the nation. CDC is working to implement the Healthy Brain Initiative, including assisting with monitoring the public health burden of cognitive impairment and enhancing understanding about how diverse groups perceive cognitive health.
Recently, CDC announced recipients of funding to create the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Public Health Centers of Excellence and Public Health Programs as part of the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, Public Law 115-406. The Public Health Centers of Excellence will collaborate with the CDC and other national and local partners to identify, translate, and disseminate promising research findings and evidence-informed best practices for dementia risk reduction, early detection of dementia, and dementia caregiving. The Public Health Programs will promote a strong public health approach to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by changing systems, environments, and policies to promote risk reduction, improve early diagnosis, prevent and manage comorbidities, and avoid hospitalizations.
ACL: Support for People With Dementia, Their Families, and Communities
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) provides funding for states and home and community-based service providers to develop and implement person-centered services and supports. ACL partners with public and private entities to identify and address the unique needs of people living with dementia and their caregivers.
The Administration on Aging (AoA), within ACL, leads the agency’s initiatives to support people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their caregivers. The AoA provides funding to states and community-based organizations through the Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative (ADPI). In 2020, the AoA introduced the Dementia Capability in Indian Country grant program to provide resources for the development and delivery of culturally competent dementia education and evidence-based interventions to Native American populations.
A broad range of public and private entities participate in ACL’s ADPI programs. Grantees include state and county governments, tribal entities, Area Agencies on Aging, Councils on Aging, hospital systems, hospice and palliative care agencies, local independent Alzheimer’s and related dementias home and community-based service providers, and disability service providers.
ACL also funds the National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center (NADRC), which provides technical assistance to states and organizations participating in its Alzheimer’s and related dementias grant programs and makes dementia-specific resources — including issue briefs, webinars, and toolkits — available to the general public.
In addition to supporting state, community, and tribal grants, ACL supports the operation of the National Alzheimer’s 24/7 Call Center through the Alzheimer’s Association, a not-for-profit organization. The call center is open year-round and provides expert advice, care consultation, information, and referrals at the national and local levels. The helpline’s phone number is 800-272-3900.
Taking action to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s and related dementias and support those living with these diseases is a national priority: We need your help! We encourage you to browse the resources on this website to learn more about these diseases and how to help provide care and support for those living with them, how you may be able to reduce your own risk of dementia, and how to join a clinical trial or study.
Explore the resources on this website and linked below to find more information from federal government agencies.
Learn about NIA's efforts toward the National Plan and NIH summits that shape research priorities.
Learn more about Administration for Community Living’s initiatives and programs designed to support people with dementia.
Find details on this act designed to create a uniform national public health infrastructure to address Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
Read about the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s research into Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias.
Read the full text of the blueprint for achieving the vision of a nation free of Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
Read this report on the state of services and support systems for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have dementia.
Questions? Contact the ADEAR Center
The Alzheimer’s & related Dementias Education & Referral (ADEAR) Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. Call 800-438-4380 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk with an information specialist.
This content is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.