What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?

Dementia is the loss of intellectual function. Many diseases and conditions can cause dementia, including head trauma or stroke. Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent form of dementia. It is progressive and patients lose intellect and self-care abilities. The disease lasts an average of 8 – 10 years after diagnosis. People with dementia require 24-hour supervision and care, which makes Alzheimer’s care more costly than cancer or heart disease.

How many people are affected?

Every 67 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. There are over 5.2 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and 200,000 are under the age of 65. The number of people with Alzheimer’s in Alabama has grown 8% over the last decade and has been referred to as a “silver tsunami.” There are currently over 93,000 Alabamians with Alzheimer’s and over 180,000 family members serving as caregivers. Nearly half of American adults have a personal connection to the disease.

What are the challenges of a family facing Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Finding appropriate medical care
  • Learning about the disease
  • Accessing community resources
  • Developing a plan to care for the person with dementia now and as they progress


What is Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama’s background?

Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama is a local organization helping local families. Established in 1990, ACA serves 21 counties across central Alabama, and 100% of the money we raise stays in our state and 89 cents of every dollar we raise funds our services, education and research.

What is the budget and structure of the organization?

ACA’s annual budget is generally about $600,000 and is raised through special events, corporate and individual support, and grants.

What services are offered?

Since 1990 ACA has provided:

  • Scholarships for more than 600 people with dementia to attend adult day care centers;
  • Continence products delivered to the door for over 900 people with dementia;
  • 24 research grants to Alabama colleges and universities;
  • Diminishing the risk of wandering by offering Project Lifesaver to hundreds of those with dementia;
  • Ongoing education with our newsletter, website, support groups, telephone helpline, art and music programs, community awareness and education programs.

What is adult day care?

The benefits of adult day care for people with dementia have been well documented. Adult day care centers allow caregivers to bring someone with dementia for the day, while the caregiver goes to work, handles household chores or simply receives respite from the daily rigors of caring for their love one. Day care participation has been shown to decrease anxiety and provide greater management of behaviors while giving those with dementia a sense of personal empowerment, autonomy and control. Studies have shown that day care participants sleep better at night and tend to maintain overall function longer.

Adult day care is the most affordable option of care for families whose loved ones are physically able to attend. Day care in our area costs about $45 per day (the national average is $69 per day), while the cost of in-home sitters can be as much as $17 per hour. However, $45 per day is cost-prohibitive for the families ACA serves.

How does the ACA Continence program work?

All people with dementia who progress to the later stages of the disease become incontinent. Incontinence has been shown to be the number one predictor of institutionalization. It is a difficult symptom of the disease for families to manage. The cost of the products is prohibitive for families on a fixed income. In addition to the financial cost of incontinence, there is the cost to the person’s dignity. Every person deserves to be clean and dry. ACA offers a case of products (either diaper, pull ups or bed pads) and gloves and wipes delivered to the door every month.

How does ACA Project Lifesaver work?

60% of people with dementia will wander away from their caregiver. When those with Alzheimer’s wander they are unaware of their situation; they do not call out for help and do not respond to people calling out to them. It is critical that they are recovered quickly. The Project Lifesaver bracelet is a one-ounce battery-operated radio wrist transmitter that emits an automatic tracking signal every second, 24 hours a day. The signal can be tracked on the ground and in the air over several miles. Since each bracelet has a unique radio frequency, the search team can positively locate and identify the person who has wandered. The program costs $300 for the bracelet and $8 per month for the batteries or about $1 per day.

How does someone apply for assistance through ACA?

Anyone can apply for assistance. Awards are made based on greatest need. Family members may apply for scholarships for either adult day care or continence products. Referrals are received from day care centers, hospitals and physicians, home health agencies, the health departments, etc. Applications are mailed or can be downloaded from ACA’s website. All applications are reviewed and scored using an objective scoring system, which gives greater weight to those with the greatest economic and social need. Once an application has been accepted, an ACA staff member further explains the program. The caregiver can select the day care center or continence product that is needed. The day care centers bill ACA directly each month. All continence products are shipped directly to the person with dementia’s home and ACA is billed.

What is the impact of the ACA research grant program?

Since 2001, ACA has awarded 24 research grants to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama and Auburn University. ACA grants are intended to provide seed funding to encourage junior investigators to pursue careers in dementia research. Our grant program has made an impact. ACA’s 2011 Research Grant was awarded to Amy Nelson, then a PhD trainee in the lab of Lori McMahon, PhD, who is the Jarman F. Lowder Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center at UAB. The project ACA funded helped renew a $1.1 million award from the National Institute on Aging.


What are Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama’s current funding needs?

The heart of what we do is helping families keep their loved one at home. If homecare is an option, ACA offers services that help make it possible. Every ACA service program has a waiting list. At the same time, the need for services is growing as more families face a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Our dementia-specific services help prevent more costly institutionalization.

  • Home delivered continence supplies cost $50 a month or $600 annually for each family.
  • The program currently services over 110 families per month.
  • Adult day care is the most affordable option of care for families whose loved ones are physically able to attend. Day care in our area costs about $45 per day (the national average is $69 per day), while the cost of in-home sitters can be as much as $17 per hour. However, $45 per day is cost prohibitive for many families.
  • ACA currently serves over 80 people with dementia with up to $250 per month or $3,000 per year of day care services.

How can I support ACA for the future?

By donating to ACA’s Endowment Fund. Your charitable gift to the Endowment Fund will be used to help people with dementia and caregivers locally, by funding the 3 core Programs of ACA: providing respite for caregivers through the Adult Day Care program, Continence Supplies for those with financial need, and the Project Lifesaver service to protect the person with dementia from wandering.

Who manages the Endowment Fund?

The Endowment Board of ACA and the Board of Directors are the fiduciaries of the Endowment Fund and have the responsibility of wise stewardship of the fund. They have selected The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to manage the administration and investment of the ACA Endowment Funds. They are a proven cost-effective administrator of dozens of nonprofit agency endowment funds across the state of Alabama.

How much is spent each year from the Endowment Fund?

Up to five percent of the corpus of the Endowment Fund, based on a three-year rolling average may be spent each year. The decision on how much to spend each year will be recommended by the Endowment Investment Committee with approval of the Endowment Board and the Board of Directors.

What types of gifts will ACA accept?

Cash, stocks, personal property, beneficiary designations of assets such as life insurance, retirement assets, bonds, annuities, mutual funds, bequests in your will, full or partial interests in real estate, and transfer on death designations. All complex gifts are subject to the approval of the Endowment Investment Committee and, ultimately, the Board of Directors of ACA.