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Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer's

- Monday, November 21, 2011

With the passage of time, most of us will notice changes in our memory or thinking. Forgetfulness is a normal part of getting older, but dementia  and Alzheimer's disease is not.

Yet, with good reason, we all worry.

Today, one in ten people 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease - about 5 million people. Yet only half of these people have actually been diagnosed with the disease. The rest don't even know they have it! And it's estimated that by 2050 as many as 16 million people will have Alzheimer's.

We read these statistics and wonder if and when it will it happen to me or someone in my family?"

If you're concerned because you've experienced recurring "senior moments". . . if you have any history of Alzheimer's or related memory disorders in your family. . . if a loved one has been showing signs of memory loss that concern you. . . if you are caring for someone recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and are wondering about a new drug or therapy. . . it is critically important to learn everything you can about the disease so you can make informed decisions about getting the correct Alzheimer’s care, diagnosis and treatment. Partner with your doctor effectively, ask the right questions, and understand the answers.

For most people, Alzheimer's progresses very slowly. Deterioration of thinking, memory, and judgment are gradual. So you have time to learn about Alzheimer's, to make the best treatment choices, and to plan for the future.

Where Does Normal Forgetfulness End and Mild Cognitive Impairment Begin?

Some experts think that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the earliest manifestation of Alzheimer's. There is no definitive test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s - but clinical information from the patient's history and mental status exams are accurate about 90% of the time.

After screening for Alzheimer's, then what? Currently, there are 4 "symptomatic therapies" for Alzheimer's disease - drugs that can improve symptoms better than a placebo, but cannot cure patients or reverse the disease. Researchers estimate that only about 15% of Alzheimer’s patients actually take these medications.

Information from Johns Hopkins