The Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that strives to end Alzheimer’s Disease. Its mission is to eliminate the disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia by promoting brain health.
To achieve its goal, the Alzheimer’s Association conducts its operations in 81 chapters across the country. It promotes awareness of the disorder by investing in educational campaigns and initiatives to teach people what the disorder is and what they can do to help their loved ones affected by the illness. In the last year, the association spent over $40 million alone on public awareness and education. To combat the disease itself, the Alzheimer’s Association advocates and aids in the research process to help scientist understand the disease, find methods of treatment, and even find a cure. It hosts the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference to close the knowledge gap between researchers and further accelerate the pace of discovery towards a cure. It spent approximately $45 million on this.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a fatal progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder that causes loss of memory and problems with thinking and behavior. There is no cure, nor is there effective treatment for the disorder. It most commonly occurs in people over 65 years of age, but can also occur in younger people. In patients with Alzheimer’s, an unusually high amount of plaques and tangles accumulate in the brain. Plaques are deposits of the protein beta amyloid that build up in the spaces between nerve cells in the brain. Tangles are twisted fibers of the protein tau that build up inside brain cells. As Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, these plaques and tangles spread throughout the brain. Along with this spread comes the progression of the disorder. Alzheimer’s has 7 stages. In the early stages, patients may begin to notice they are having difficulties with memory lapses, such as forgetting words. They may forget information about recent things they read or have increased trouble with planning and organizing. In the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, the disorder beings to interfere with patients’ everyday lives. They may forget events or things about their personal history. They will have an increased risk of wandering and becoming lost. They may also begin to lose control of their bladders and bowels, and may become moodier. In the late stages of the disease, patients can no longer live alone and will need full time care. They lose the ability to communicate and have difficulty with movements. They also become vulnerable to infections such as pneumonia. This is the fatal stage of Alzheimer’s Disease.
My grandmother currently suffers form stage 7 (the last stage of) Alzheimer’s Disease. My family first noticed something was wrong when she began to forget to turn the stove in the house off and was doing other erratic behavior. She began having trouble with remembering simple things. As her disorder progressed, she had trouble with bowel movements and would sometimes unintentionally defecate on the floor instead of on the toilet. She would forget the time of year and had trouble remembering people’s names. Eventually, she had trouble remembering who people were. For example, on a visit to our house, my aunt became completely unfamiliar to my grandmother. She had forgotten who her own daughter was. When she entered into the final stages of Alzheimer’s, she started having trouble feeding herself and had to wear diapers. She could no longer walk correctly and had trouble speaking. Now that she is in stage 7, she needs total 24/7 care just to stay alive. She needs help with feeding, bathing, and is wheelchair bound. She has trouble swallowing, so much so that sometimes food goes into her lungs instead of her stomach and causes infections. Watching her progress through this illness was very difficult to witness, and it is even more difficult to see her suffering as she is now.
It is for people like this that the Alzheimer’s Association exists. They spent over $142 million on expenditures to help end Alzheimer’s. The nonprofit earned $161 million, with $149 million coming form donations and grants, and achieved a net income of $18 million in the last year. About 73.4% of their expenditures ($109 million) went towards program expenses, with the rest going towards overhead costs. 7.2% of their expenditure went towards administrative costs. The rest of the expenditures (19.4%) focused on fundraising, which is a major source of income for this organization. The organization earns 11.1% of its income from fundraising events. It spent $22 million on fundraising, with over $1 million of those dollars going toward professional fundraisers. The association has 32 independent voting members in its governing body, employed 698 people, and had 6,612 volunteers in the last year. Its President and CEO was compensated $1,062,149 for his services to the association last year. The association compensated its workers a total of over $50 million in the past year.
All this and much more information can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website and IRS Form 990. Donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association via their website www.alz.org.