Alzheimer's Disease Support Groups

The University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center offers support groups and seminars throughout the month to educate patients, families and caregivers on Alzheimer's Disease, open trials and clinical research. Visit the events calendar for dates and times.

Alzheimer caregiver support group meetings are held at the KU Clinical Research Center monthly

Join us for our monthly Caregiver Support Group

Meetings are held the second Monday of each month. No reservations are required.

2-3:30 p.m.

KU Clinical Research Center
Alzheimer's Disease Center
4350 Shawnee Mission Pkwy., Suite 200
Fairway, KS 66205
(Fairway Office Park behind Security Bank)

Alzheimer's Disease

A harsh reality for an aging population

Alzheimer’s disease causes nerve cells in the brain to die, which means they cannot communicate or carry out certain important tasks. When nerve cells die, a person loses the ability to remember things, experiences personality changes and may have trouble performing daily tasks.

Alzheimer’s is difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure. It can be confused with many other forms of dementia. And people who exhibit Alzheimer’s-like symptoms don’t always have the disease.

More than 5 million Americans live with the disease – most of them are 65 or older.

While Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, it is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s is a disease that becomes much worse over time. The symptoms, life expectancy and treatments will vary from person to person. Some of the more common cognitive changes include:

  • Memory loss, especially short-term memory loss
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Restlessness
  • Personality or mood changes
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired communication
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Language deterioration
  • Impaired visual and spatial awareness
  • Emotional apathy

Although there is no true indicator of whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s, scientists believe that age, family history and genetics all play a role. When you are diagnosed with this disease, you want the best professionals caring for you and your family. The University of Kansas Health System has the only Alzheimer’s Disease Center in the region, with physicians and nurses who have dedicated their careers to the care of Alzheimer’s patients and the research necessary to prevent the disease.

Tools to determine the problem

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are strikingly similar to other types of dementia. There is not a single, comprehensive test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s, but by eliminating the presence of other diseases, doctors can achieve a diagnosis in about 90 percent of cases. The only true test to confirm Alzheimer’s is through an autopsy of the brain, which reveals abnormalities associated only with the disease.

Physicians will run a complete battery of tests and evaluation to determine if the patient has a treatable form of dementia. When those diagnoses are ruled out, doctors can use other diagnostic procedures, including:

  • Complete review of medical history
  • Full neurological examination
  • Blood tests
  • Computed tomography scan, also called CT or CAT scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI

Other tests may include a spinal tap, electroencephalogram (or EEG), which records the brain’s continuous activity, and genetic testing.

For patients who need advanced testing, The University of Kansas Health System is the only hospital in the region to administer an Amyvid™ scan, which includes a dye injection that highlights the presence of the plaque in the brain that accumulates to cause Alzheimer’s disease.

What can be done

Scientists know much more about Alzheimer’s disease today than they did just 10 years ago. Statistics have shown the importance of an early diagnosis, giving patients a better chance to benefit from treatment and possible participation in clinical trials. In addition, an early diagnosis gives families more time to prepare for a future with the disease and to develop relationships with doctors and caregivers.

Although the prognosis is bleak, research has made it possible for physicians to use drug and nondrug therapies to lessen symptoms such as sleep changes, personality or mood changes and memory loss.

Physicians at The University of Kansas Health System lead research to determine the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and focus on the prevention of the disease through lifestyle modifications.