Leading Alzheimer's & Dementia Charities & Organizations

If your life, or that of a loved one, has been touched by Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, perhaps you're interested in learning how you can give back. While there are so many excellent organizations that target dementia, we unfortunately can't feature them all here. Instead, we have chosen some of the top charities and organizations in the United States based on their size, financial data, and scope of services provided. Find out how you can make a difference.

Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association is likely the charity you're most familiar with if you're involved with Alzheimer's disease awareness. It's the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to this cause. Back in 1980, it was named the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association, Inc.

The organization has many local chapters in different communities and serves as an excellent resource to support both people with Alzheimer's and dementia as well as their caregivers. They provide education, research funding, advocacy, local support, and resources for families and professionals. Some of their events include:

  • The Longest Day: An annual call on June 21 (recognized as the longest day of the year) to remember and advocate for those with Alzheimer's who often feel like many days are very long.
  • The Walk for Alzheimer's: Here you're encouraged to get donors to sponsor a community walk for Alzheimer's in September each year.

American Brain Foundation

The American Brain Foundation (ABF), formally known as the American Academy of Neurology Foundation, works to connect researchers with donors and to increase awareness of brain disease. More than 32,000 neurologists and other professionals are part of the American Academy of Neurology. 

The ABF's goal is simple but lofty: "cure brain disease." They have already directed more than $24 million for research on several types of brain disease, including Alzheimer's disease, other types of dementia, stroke, autism, brain tumors, headaches, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and multiple sclerosis

Brain Pavers, an ABF program, helps facilitate the involvement of the community and social media in fundraising efforts by choosing an activity, such as car washes, concerts, bake sales, birthdays, and runs/walks, to promote sponsored donations.

Cure Alzheimer's Fund

Cure Alzheimer's Fund (CAF), also known as Alzheimer's Disease Research Foundation, raises money for research on Alzheimer's treatment and prevention. The organization was founded in 2004 by three families who were frustrated by the slow pace of research for the condition.

CAF has contributed more than $50 million to research. They work to raise money by seeking partnerships, holding fundraising events like golf tournaments and a ride for the cure, and sourcing donations from others interested in funding research.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) was founded in 2002 by a caregiver whose mother passed away after living with Alzheimer's disease for 12 years. AFA seeks to provide resources to dementia caregivers, including family education, free memory screening services, dementia care training for professionals, and support groups nationwide.

Also, they direct the "Light the Nation" program that turns landmarks teal for one day each November in order to increase dementia awareness. More than 2,600 organizations have an AFA membership which demonstrates their commitment to quality Alzheimer's care and ongoing education in the field. AFA provides grants to organizations to further programs directed to dementia care and support, too. 

Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation

The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation (FCARF) was founded by philanthropists Zachary Fisher and David Rockefeller in 1995. Their goal was to build a top of the line research center to seek a cure for Alzheimer's.

In addition to the research they conduct, FCARF provides educational resources through their website, publishes a quarterly magazine called Preserving Your Memory, and uses the majority of their donations to partner with many other national and international researchers who share similar goals.

Alzheimer's Research & Prevention Foundation

Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) is committed to the goal of preventing Alzheimer's disease through research, education, and memory screenings. It was established in 1993.

As opposed to limiting their focus to medication, ARPF strongly emphasizes holistic and integrative medicine. Their education consists of informing communities and professionals about strategies for brain health today as well as dementia prevention for the future. Their four "pillars of prevention" include: 

  1. Diet
  2. Physical exercise
  3. Stress management 
  4. Spiritual fitness

Bright Focus

Bright Focus is an organization that targets three different areas:

  1. Alzheimer's disease 
  2. Macular degeneration 
  3. Glaucoma

It has provided more than $100 million in research grants for Alzheimer's, more than $21 million for macular degeneration research, and more than $28 million for glaucoma research. It has been in existence since 1973. Until a few years ago, however, Bright Focus was called the American Health Assistance Foundation.

In addition to dedicating funding for research, Bright Focus works to raise awareness and provide education and support for those affected by brain or eye disease and their caregivers. They regularly hold events, such as awards dinners, to honor researchers and highlight the work they're doing on brain and eye diseases. 

Lewy Body Dementia Association

Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) is an organization committed to advocating for, educating, and supporting those affected by Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia (LBD) is one type of dementia that is similar in some ways to Alzheimer's, but has many of its own and different challenges.

LBDA was initially organized by family caregivers of people living with the condition. While many people are familiar with Alzheimer's disease, the LBDA works to increase awareness and support of LBD since it is a disease that is much less known or understood. 

Alzheimer's Family Services Center

The Alzheimer's Family Services Center is unique to this list in that it is one of two organizations that has a local focus versus a national one. However, its size and depth of service to those with Alzheimer's and their families is quite significant.

Located in Huntington Beach, CA, their mission is to serve the residents of this area who are living with dementia by offering a daycare program that is strategically designed to enrich the lives of its participants. They also provide caregiver support via a helpline and community education either online or through educational programs such as its Mind Booster series. Donations are used to support the direct care programs and caregiver support services they offer.

Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation

The Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation (LIAF) is the other local Alzheimer's charity we're highlighting. Located in New York, LIAF was formed in 1988 to serve those in its community who live with dementia. They offer several different programs, each of which targets a different stage or challenge of Alzheimer's.

Their goal is to provide meaningful activities for older adults with dementia and to ensure the individual's family members are supported as caregivers. Also, they offer social work services to family members to help maintain their well-being in addition to respite care and other educational resources.

Clinical Trials

Another way to "give back" is by participating in clinical trials. Research on Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia is ongoing, but volunteers are always needed.

In particular, there has been an under-representation of minorities (including Latinos and African Americans) in research study participants, yet these populations have a higher risk of dementia. Cognitively intact volunteers are also needed for certain trials as well.

Participating in clinical trials is important so that we can learn how effective new medications and treatment approaches might be as well as continue to deepen our understanding of what truly causes Alzheimer's and related dementias to develop.

Disclaimer: While cognitive trials are imperative in order to progress to our goal of curing and preventing dementia, it's important that you fully understand the potential risks and benefits of the particular clinical trial in which you participate. Be sure to discuss this option with your physician and your loved ones in order to make an informed decision about your participation.

Volunteering

The sharing of time and talents can also be a great way to give back. You may have gifts of music or art that you can share at a local nursing home or assisted living. Contact the activities director to set up a monthly program or just drop by to play the piano. You can choose to visit someone living with dementia regularly, whether they're still living in their own home or in a facility.

If you have young children or work at a school or child daycare center, make arrangements to visit the residents of a dementia unit or adult daycare center. When children interact with adults with dementia, both groups of people benefit significantly. 

A Word From Verywell

When a specific disease or condition has touched your life, donating toward that cause is one way to respond. These and many other organizations are dedicated to responding to the crisis of Alzheimer's disease and dementia—to working towards effective treatments, a cure, prevention, caregiver and individual support, and community education and awareness. Donating money, time, or other gifts is one way we can work together and stand united against Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.

Source:

Charity Navigator

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