Early diagnosis offers the best hope to treat and manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. An early and accurate diagnosis also helps a family plan for a course of treatment, financial and social support – and has the added benefit of input from the patient.
Today, doctors can accurately diagnose the presence of Alzheimer’s about 90% 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 blood, urine, spinal fluid (rare) and brain scans
There are currently no treatments that will stop or reverse the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are currently four FDA-approved drugs available that may be able to relieve symptoms for patients for a limited time such as memory loss, and other problems with thinking or reasoning. For people with mild to moderate symptoms, doctors may prescribe Aricept®, Exelon®, Razadyne® or Galantamine®. Moderate to severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be treated with Aricept®, Exelon® and Namenda®. 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 like sleeplessness, agitation, wandering, anxiety and depression. Treating the symptoms may make patients more comfortable and caring for them easier, but may also come with additional side effects.
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 a cure.