Flu Shots May Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s & Related Dementias

Flu Shots May Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s

Researchers discovered that vaccines may lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s and associated disorders by increasing the immune system.

There are several reasons to get a flu vaccination. However, there is one reason that might surprise you! A recent study suggests that flu shots may protect your brain.

According to the study, getting regular vaccines against influenza and other infectious illnesses, including whooping cough, shingles, pneumococcal pneumonia, tetanus, and diphtheria, may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias [1]. Paul E. Schulz, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Center at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, led the study.

The Recent Study

In the study, after tracking two groups for up to eight years—one vaccinated against the flu, the other not—the researchers discovered a statistically significant disparity in the incidence of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers obtained individuals from a national patient database, dividing them into two groups of 935,887 each, one vaccinated and the other not. The scientists ensured that both groups had a number of similar characteristics, including age, gender, frequency of medical visits, and specific medical conditions like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, to minimize the possibility of different factors influencing the results.
The research team discovered that receiving an annual flu vaccination for three years in a row decreased the chance of dementia by 20% during the ensuing four to eight years while receiving six doses doubled the reduction to 40%.

According to Schulz, the number of dementia cases in the vaccinated group was 47,889, whereas the number in the unvaccinated group was 79,630. There is a difference of over 30,000 cases.

Similar results of other vaccines

Schulz team also saw comparable outcomes with vaccinations against other infectious illnesses, such as pneumococcal pneumonia, shingles, and Tdap, which is a mix of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), or tetanus and diphtheria without the pertussis component.

Shingles Vaccine

The researchers compared 198,847 individuals who had the shingles vaccines—Zostavax, the first shingles vaccine, and Shingrix, the most current one—against an equivalent number of patients who did not receive the vaccinations. During the eight-year follow-up, 16,106 vaccinated individuals had Alzheimer’s disease, compared to 21,417 unvaccinated patients — or 5,311 fewer people in the vaccinated group experienced dementia.

Tdap and Td Vaccines

The researchers studied two groups of 116,400 patients each, one vaccinated and the other not, using the Tdap and Td vaccinations. Over eight years, 8,370 vaccinated people had dementia, compared to 11,857 unvaccinated people — 3,487 fewer cases overall.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

Using pneumococcal vaccination, researchers examined two groups of 260,037 individuals, one vaccinated and the other unvaccinated. After eight years, they found 20,583 instances of dementia among the vaccinated, compared with 28,558 unvaccinated individuals – 7,975 fewer patients in the vaccinated group.

Results from other studies

Stanford University researchers discovered comparable outcomes in two UK-based studies that are currently unpublished and undergoing peer review. The first, conducted over seven years in an older population in Wales, indicates that vaccination with Zostavax prevented an estimated 1 in 5 new cases of dementia, according to the study’s lead researcher, Pascal Geldsetzer, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University’s division of primary care and population health [2].

The second study examined mortality statistics for Wales and England and discovered a five percent difference in the likelihood of dying from dementia over a nine-year follow-up, or one in twenty deaths prevented [3].

For both studies, the researchers divided the participants into two groups for comparative reasons based on the country’s birth date qualifying requirements. Those who turned 80 shortly before the program started were not eligible for the vaccination and remained so. However, those who became 80 shortly after the program commenced were eligible for the vaccine, which they got for free over the subsequent year.

Geldsetzer stated that the likelihood of receiving the shingles vaccination varied significantly between the two comparison groups, presumably due to a tiny age difference. This sets the study apart from other studies that only compare those who receive vaccinations with those who do not. According to the researchers, the results of this particular natural randomization imply a causal link.

How can the vaccine help against dementia?

A multitude of studies have revealed that people who receive flu and other infectious disease vaccines are less likely to develop dementia than the unvaccinated [2][4]. However, the experts are unsure about the reason. According to some, vaccinations minimize or lessen the chance of contracting infectious agents, which may have a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.

In contrast, Schulz believes that vaccines could reduce the immune system’s response to amyloid plaque – a naturally occurring protein that is present in unusually high levels in Alzheimer’s patients. The immune system perceives plaque as a foreign intruder and attacks it, resulting in persistent brain inflammation and the death of adjacent neurons, leading to dementia.

Vaccines may rescue brain cells that the body’s immune system might otherwise kill by suppressing the immunological reaction to amyloid. Additionally, vaccinations may enhance the immune system’s capacity to eliminate plaque. Fewer plaques result in reduced inflammation and brain cell death.

Schulz further added that they are unsure what the process is yet, but something is happening with the brain and immune system that appears to be making a significant effect.

According to experts, more research is needed to evaluate the vaccine’s effects on the brain.


  1. Harris, K., Ling, Y., Bukhbinder, A.S., Chen, L., Phelps, K.N., Cruz, G., Thomas, J., Kim, Y., Jiang, X. and Schulz, P.E., 2023. The impact of routine vaccinations on Alzheimer’s disease risk in persons 65 years and older: a claims-based cohort study using propensity score matching. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, (Preprint), pp.1-16.
  2. Eyting, M., Xie, M., Heβ, S. and Geldsetzer, P., 2023. Causal evidence that herpes zoster vaccination prevents a proportion of dementia cases. medRxiv.
  3. Michalik, F., Xie, M., Eyting, M., Heß, S., Chung, S. and Geldsetzer, P., 2023. The effect of herpes zoster vaccination on the occurrence of deaths due to dementia in England and Wales. medRxiv, pp.2023-09.
  4. Wiemken, T.L., Salas, J., Hoft, D.F., Jacobs, C., Morley, J.E. and Scherrer, J.F., 2021. Dementia risk following influenza vaccination in a large veteran cohort. Vaccine, 39(39), pp.5524-5531.
  5. Cimons, M. Flu shots may protect against the risk of Alzheimer’s, related dementias. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/10/25/flu-shots-alzheimers-dementias-vaccinations-infectious-diseases/. Published Online: 25th October, 2023. Accessed: 7th December, 2023.
  6. Simpson, M.L. Flu Shots Might Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. People. https://people.com/flu-shots-could-lower-risk-of-dementia-8383636. Published Online: 27th October, 2023. Accessed: 7th December, 2023.

Support Alzheimer’s Caregivers by Donating this Holiday Season

Support Alzheimer’s Caregivers by Donating

The holidays are almost here. Spending time with loved ones during this wonderful time of year is just delightful. However, it may be a challenging time of year for the family caregivers, especially for the primary caregiver.

Many caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients find the holidays to be stressful and hard. The challenges of the present contrast with the joyful recollections of the past, and further demands on time and energy might feel overwhelming.

Besides emotional strain, they may also experience financial strain, which adds to the holiday stress. Financial stress can exacerbate during the holiday season, especially when there is pressure to purchase gifts, prepare for a celebration, or engage in costly activities.

We can help relieve some of their burden, but how exactly can we accomplish that? Before getting to the answer, we will look at some significant statistics about Alzheimer’s caregivers.

Alzheimer’s Caregivers & Financial Burden: Facts and Figures

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that worsens with time to the point that the patient becomes completely dependent on the caregiver for even basic everyday activities. As the symptoms worsen, caregivers may face increased levels of emotional stress and depression, new or worsening health issues, and diminished income and finances as a result of job disruptions and the cost of providing care and other services for both the dementia patient and themselves. Caregivers of individuals with dementia report more significant emotional, financial, and physical challenges than caregivers of persons without dementia.

The following statistics highlight the financial stress that the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients experience [1].

  • In the United States, family, friends, and other unpaid caregivers provide 83% of the assistance to older persons.
  • Almost half of all caregivers (48%) who assist older persons do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
  • Over 11 million Americans offer unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
  • Unpaid caregivers provided an estimated 18 billion hours of care worth $339.5 billion in 2022.
  • About 25% of caregivers for dementia patients are “sandwich generation” caregivers, which means they look after at least one kid in addition to an aged parent.
  • The household income of 41% of caregivers is $50,000 or less.
  • Families bear 70% of the lifetime cost of caring for a person with dementia, either via unpaid care or through out-of-pocket health and long-term care expenditures.

How can we help caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients?

Alzheimer’s has a severe impact on caregivers. Two times as many caregivers of those with dementia report significant emotional, financial, and physical challenges as caregivers of individuals without dementia.

Holidays are a time to rejoice, but caregivers often feel more emotional and financial pressure during these days. The least we can do is to support them in any way we can! If you know someone who is taking care of their aging parents, try to support them by offering to help them with holiday celebrations and household chores and assist with some caregiving tasks if you can so that the caregiver can have a respite. You can also provide them with monetary support.

Another way to help caregivers is by donating to non-profit organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Research Association, which is committed to helping caregivers via helpful resources and grants. Your donations will make the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients feel a bit lighter by relieving some of their financial burden.

Alzheimer’s Research Association: What do we do?

The Alzheimer’s Research Association is a non-profit organization devoted to delivering the most recent advances in innovation and technology to caregivers and their families coping with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Our mission is to ease the caregiver’s burden by offering grants, educational resources, and support services.

Our goal is to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease by offering a wealth of information, such as the latest research and news, to assist family caregivers whose loved ones are living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. As part of our mission, we provide grants from donations to caregivers to assist them in overcoming the financial, emotional, and physical challenges that come with being a caregiver.

At the Alzheimer’s Research Association, we are or have been Alzheimer’s patient caregivers in the past. We want to offer a resource where you can get the answers to your most pressing issues about Alzheimer’s care based on our research and experiences.

Donate to Alzheimer’s Research Association: Where do your donations go?

Many caregivers are unable to enjoy the holidays due to emotional and financial pressure. You can help them ease some of their worries associated with this season by donating to us. Your contribution will support our ongoing initiatives to assist those who care for persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

So, where will your donations go? Your donations will be used as caregiver grants or for caregiver respite care programs. The Alzheimer’s Research Association takes pride in supporting caregivers, and we will continue to work tirelessly to achieve our goal! Our hard work pays off every time we know we are a source of relief for someone!

“Thank you so much for the grant gift. It will be used for the extra cost of groceries during the holiday season as well as warm clothing for my mom. Thank you! Thank you!”
Judy, A Caregiver Grant Recipient

This Christmas, your donations may help a caregiver cover extra costs of groceries, buy gifts, purchase warm clothes or accessories for the loved one they care for, or fulfill any critical necessity. Donations – no matter how small – can make a big difference in someone’s life!

Support the caregivers by donating before Christmas vacation: https://www.alzra.org/donate-now/

Dear caregivers, you can apply for caregiver grants here: https://www.alzra.org/grant-applications/.


  1. 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/media/documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures.pdf. Alzheimer’s Dementia. 2023 Apr;19(4):1598-1695.
  2. How caregivers and older adults can cope with holiday stress. Good Samaritan Society. https://www.good-sam.com/resources/how-caregivers-and-older-adults-can-cope-with-holiday-stress. Posted Online: 22nd November, 2023. Accessed: 7th December, 2023.
  3. Alzheimer’s Research Association. https://www.alzra.org/. Accessed: 7th December, 2023.

How to Assist Family Caregivers During the Holiday Season

Family Caregivers During the Holiday Season

If you have a family member who devotes their time to care for an aging loved one, you are undoubtedly aware of the significant sacrifice required. It takes a lot of compassion, labor, and occasionally a considerable amount of time away from one’s own family to provide care for others.

Family caregivers sometimes experience increased stress over the holidays due to the additional burden of managing seasonal events and duties on top of the usual concerns of caregiving tasks.

Caring for a Family During the Holidays

Everyone may experience stress over the holidays, but family caregivers may be particularly vulnerable. In addition to ensuring your loved one is content and healthy, they frequently have to balance organizing their own social gatherings and spending time with other family members and friends.

Numerous caregivers are adult children who care for their aging parents and frequently balance time with their children to provide care. Navigating these overwhelming responsibilities may quickly lead to feelings of anxiety, particularly around the holidays when expectations and social pressure are higher.

How Can Family and Friends Offer Help During the Holiday Season?

Fortunately, there is plenty you may do to assist the family caregiver. For this time of year, even a small gesture goes a long way and doesn’t need much time. Here are some suggestions for ensuring your family caregiver has an enjoyable Christmas.

1. Acknowledge their efforts

Appreciating their efforts as a family caregiver is among the easiest things you can do. It is easy to feel lonely when a person has spent years caring for an aging loved one and has not heard from anybody else.

Not only can a few words go a long way, but you can even go one step further and make them a Christmas present. Acknowledging their efforts can significantly impact their emotional state.

2. Offer to help

The family caregiver’s mind is undoubtedly racing with all the additional things they need to do to support their loved one. It might be as simple as running errands or preparing a dish soft enough for an older person to eat while still meeting any dietary restrictions.

Provide a few minutes of your time to sit with the loved one so the caregiver may dine in peace. This small gesture may have a powerful impact.

3. Assist them with challenging work.

A large number of family caregivers look after an individual who lives on their own. It also means that they may be overseeing two houses in essence, which would involve twice as much yard work, housekeeping, washing, and other tasks. Now that the holidays are here, you may also add going upstairs to take down the decorations and prepare the house for guests.

Assist them with some of the heavy lifting this year. They may enjoy the holidays with family and friends for a bit longer if they have help with all the preparations, rather than spending it on housework.

4. Involve the kids

Children can also assist! Numerous kids might enjoy lending a hand with light yard labor, decorating, and household activities. Teens with a driver’s license could even be allowed to escort their grandparents to an appointment or conduct errands. Similarly, children may assist in some of the other physical tasks.

A good day spent making cookies and telling stories to a loved one may make them feel much better. It can also free up time for the family caregiver to take care of themselves, rest, or attend to other obligations.

5. Listen to them.

Sometimes, listening to someone is the best thing you can do for them.

No matter how much you love the person you are caring for, being a caregiver is challenging. Therefore, we must provide a secure environment for family caregivers to discuss their struggles.

Many caregivers try to keep their frustrations to themselves, so they may not reach out to you when they need to vent. Never hesitate to get in touch with them and lend them an ear.

6. Hire a third-party help.

It might be challenging to find the time to complete all of your responsibilities, let alone volunteer to take on extra duties and to-dos for others. However, you may still assist without adding to your own workload.

Hiring a service provider to assist the family caregiver with various activities or errands may be beneficial. Meal preparation, cleaning, organizing, grocery shopping, yard work – the possibilities are endless! You may even hire a professional decorator to hang the Christmas lights. There is a service for almost anything these days.

7. Consider hiring a caregiver.

Nobody can do everything on their own. When a family member is unable to care for their loved one, professional caregivers may offer them comfort and peace of mind.

A common misconception about caregivers is that they are just nursing assistants who work in homes. They may offer assistance with a wide range of tasks, including companionship and discussion, daily living activities, and transportation to and from appointments.

During this holiday season, give special attention to the amazing person who has committed their life to making their loved one feel at ease and content in their senior years. The holidays should be a time of tranquility and happiness for everyone, and you have the capacity to provide that to a caregiver.

Donate Today to Support Caregivers!

Caregiving is a demanding task that often leaves the caregivers physically, emotionally, and financially unstable. The least we can do is to try to alleviate some of their burden by supporting them via donations.

Let’s honor the dedication and sacrifices of the family caregivers who devote their lives and resources to caring for their loved ones! Don’t forget to support them, which you can do by acknowledging their hard work and donating as much as possible: https://www.alzra.org/donate-now/.


  1. How to support caregivers over the holidays. VCU Health. https://www.vcuhealth.org/news/how-to-support-caregivers-over-the-holidays. Published Online: 20th November, 2023. Accessed: 29th November, 2023.
  2. Tips for supporting family caregivers over the holidays. ComForCare. https://www.comforcare.com/massachusetts/canton/comforcare-canton-blog/tips-for-supporting-family-caregivers-over-the-holidays.html. Accessed: 29th November, 2023.
  3. How to Support the Family Caregiver During the Holidays. Homewatch Caregivers. https://www.homewatchcaregivers.com/annapolis/about-us/blog/2021/november/how-to-support-the-family-caregiver-during-the-h/. Published Online: 1st November, 2021. Accessed: 29th November, 2023.