Scientists have made great strides in accurately diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. Though current drugs only treat the symptoms of the disease, several potential drugs in late-stage clinical trials offer hope for slowing the progress of Alzheimer's.

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis offers the best hope to treat and manage the symptoms of Alzheimer's. An early and accurate diagnosis can help a family plan for necessary financial and social supports—with input from the patient. Today, doctors can accurately diagnose the presence of Alzheimer’s about 90 percent of the time, using clinical, non-invasive methods. These include:

  • Questions about the patient's health, past medical problems and ability to carry out daily tasks
  • Cognition tests including memory, problem solving, attention level and language
  • Medical tests such as brain scans

Treatments

There are currently no treatments that will stop or reverse the progress of Alzheimer's disease. However, there are currently five FDA-approved medications available that may be able to relieve symptoms for patients such as memory loss, for a limited time. For people with mild to moderate symptoms, doctors may prescribe Aricept®, Exelon®, or Razadyne®. Moderate to severe symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can be treated with Aricept®, Exelon®, Namenda® or Namzaric®. For more information on these products and to access prescribing information, please visit the manufacturers' websites.

There are other medications that can be prescribed to control the behavioral symptoms associated with Alzheimer's such as sleeplessness, agitation, wandering, anxiety and depression.

There has never been a greater need for the ADDF. With an aging population and increasing number of people with Alzheimer's, it is critical we invest in research and discover effective, disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

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