Veterans and Alzheimer’s Disease

By: Jen Manning
Alzheimer’s Association 
Walk Manager
Alabama Chapter

Blink twice. In the time it took you to do so, someone in the world has developed Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and causes memory loss and other cognitive issues that interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, causing more deaths per year than breast and prostate cancers combined.

Nearly half a million American veterans have Alzheimer’s—and as the population ages that number is expected to grow.  For veterans, prevalence may grow even faster in future years because they have a higher risk of developing dementia. Solid evidence indicates that moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) increases the risk of developing certain forms of dementia.  More than 1 in 5 combat wounds from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq involve brain injuries.  Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is two to five times more likely in veterans, has also been linked to an increased risk of dementia, possibly doubling the risk.

Both the VA and the Alzheimer’s Association are here to help.

The Birmingham VA Healthcare System has services to support Veterans and Caregivers affected by Alzheimer’s throughout the state.  This includes clinics that assess and make recommendations to manage symptoms, in-home supports, palliative services, caregiver resources, and research. 

The Alzheimer’s Association is funding research that explores treatment options, potential risk factors, and investigating tools to diagnose and intervene quicker and more effectively.

The Association also offers virtual support groups and educational opportunities and has created a free helpline available 24/7 every single day of the year, where callers can receive immediate assistance from a master’s level counselor by calling 1-800-272-3900.

For more information, visit www.alz.org, or contact Jen Manning at the Alzheimer’s Association, at jkmanning@alz.org or 256-880-1575.  For information about services offered by the VA, contact the Huntsville clinic at 256-533-8477.

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