Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily life. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually develop slowly, worsen over time, and hinder daily tasks. Read more about Alzheimer’s disease.
Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Pick’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Learn more about other types of dementia and risk factors.
The Dementia Road Map: A Guide for Family and Care Partners offers guidance about what to do when a person experiences changes in memory and thinking, and offers information and tips about what to expect and steps to take if someone in your family has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Read it online in English or in Spanish. Or, order paper copies, click here for ordering instructions.
People with memory concerns, Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia and their loved ones often have questions about planning for their future. The Dementia Legal Planning Toolkit and related resources can help you make important financial and health care decisions and give you the legal forms you need.
For a list of resources in your area, use the “Connect” box on this page or click here.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Local chapters provide a broad range of care and support programs, education and advocacy, as well as funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research. The Washington State Chapter has five office locations and a vast network of volunteers serving 47 counties in Washington State and North Idaho. The Oregon and SW Washington Chapter serves residents of Clark and Skamania counties.
Services include: a 24/7 Helpline (1.800.272.3900) available in over 200 languages, care consultations, support groups, education, and early stage memory loss programs. The Association’s national website, alz.org, is a valuable source of information on Alzheimer's disease and dementia symptoms, diagnosis, stages, treatment, caregiving and resources. Information is also available online in Spanish and 15 other languages.
Dementia Support Northwest (DSNW) primarily serves Whatcom and Skagit counties and also regularly assists out-of-town family members. It is a registered not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help those people and their families affected by dementia with the education, support and resources to empower them. DSNW is currently operating remotely and by way of their new Mobile Office.
Programs include: Caregiver Support Groups, Staying Connected Memory Support Groups for adults newly diagnosed or experiencing minimal memory loss; the Project Lifesaver Program, a partnership with the Whatcom County Sheriff providing electronic technology to locate people who wander; Art Access Classes for people living with a dementia-related illness; One-on-one guidance and support to family members and friends of people living with dementia; and an Annual Caregiver Conference and numerous educational seminars free to the community throughout the year.
The University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is part of a nationwide network of 31 research resource centers funded by the National Institute on Aging. Researchers investigate the basic mechanisms causing the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The UW ADRC contributes to the field’s understanding of genetic risk factors, identifies neuroimaging biomarkers for preclinical detection, and discovers novel therapeutic targets. The ultimate goal is to support the development of more effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis, care, and therapy for patients and families. The UW ADRC links the community with research news and opportunities to participate in studies of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The outreach team and collaborators support culturally adapted Alzheimer’s disease programs for Indigenous communities and clinics. Click here for contact information.
The UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center envisions a world in which people live well with memory loss and can rely upon the best care, within a community of support. The Center’s mission is to promote the well-being of persons living with memory loss and their families, by building dementia-friendly communities and providing exceptional clinical care and diagnosis at UW Medicine. The clinic team creates and offers a wealth of support programs and educational talks, tailored to people living with dementia and care partners. The Center serves as a site for clinical trials of experimental therapies and offers opportunities to participate in research and learn about scientific findings through the UW Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Click here for contact information.