With all the progress of the past decade, we as physicians can now diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment both with high accuracy, and in very early stages of the disease. Here I will discuss diagnostic options, as well as current and new treatments becoming available. This section is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.
If you or a loved one have begun experiencing problems with memory, mood, judgment or orientation, it’s important that you see your doctor right away for a thorough evaluation. See our symptoms page for more information on this.
The doctor will want to review your medical history as well as perform a physical exam. It’s important to rule out other potential causes of symptoms. You may be referred to a specialist, such as a neurologist, who specializes in disorders of the brain. The neurologist will likely run a range of cognitive tests to confirm a potential diagnosis and help establish a baseline, if you do indeed show signs of the disease.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are many treatments available to help manage the symptoms and prolong the patient’s ability to function normally. By simply delaying the progression of symptoms we can extend the patients quality of life and ensure that they have extra time to participate in long term care decisions.
There are a number of pharmaceutical drugs, such as cholinesterase inhibitors (CEIs), and memantine, which can delay the worsening of symptoms for months to a year. Vitamin E is also sometimes used to help delay the onset of symptoms. Other new drugs are being studied that may be able to improve brain function. Check back often for new information on the exciting research being done in the Alzheimer’s field.