Content provided by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
(ARA) - More than five million Americans currently have Alzheimer's disease (AD) and this number could triple to 16 million by 2050 as baby boomers join the 65 and older age group. To underscore the importance of early diagnosis, a group of experts in Alzheimer's disease and senior health called the AD Screening Discussion Group recently put forth a consensus statement advising seniors ages 65 years and older, either independently or through the support of loved ones, to request a memory screening during routine physical examinations.
"Early screening is an underutilized strategy in both identifying the substantial number of individuals living with undiagnosed Alzheimer's disease and providing them the necessary medical intervention," says Dr. Paul R. Solomon, professor, department of psychology and program in neuroscience, Williams College; clinical director, The Memory Clinic in Bennington, VT; and a member of the AD Screening Discussion Group.
Reliable memory screening tools now make it possible to help distinguish between the normal changes in memory that accompany healthy aging and memory disorders that may signal Alzheimer's disease. A simple first step can be completing a screener for yourself or on behalf of a loved one online at www.seethesigns.com. While the results are not a diagnosis, it can indicate the need to see a physician for further evaluation.
Undiagnosed and untreated Alzheimer's disease can also pose a substantial cost to the U.S. health care system. With Medicare expenses for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias expected to more than double within just 10 years -- from $91 billion in 2005 to $189 billion in 2015 - the AD Screening Discussion Group believes its consensus statement is being released at an ideal time.
"While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, earlier intervention could minimize the magnitude of its psychological, social and economic impact on society," claims Dr. Richard Stefanacci, DO, MGH, MBA, AGSF, CMD, founding executive director, Health Policy Institute, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and a member of the AD Screening Discussion Group.
The Group's long-term strategies to help encourage earlier Alzheimer's disease screening and diagnosis were revealed during a panel briefing sponsored by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc in Washington D.C. and included the following recommendations:
* Recommend memory screening as part of the "Welcome to Medicare" physical as well as if admitted to an assisted living facility or a long-term care facility
* Offer more counseling and support to patients and their families to help them better manage the decisions and responsibilities surrounding an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis
* Increase public education about Alzheimer's disease and the importance of early screenings
* Encourage use of current memory screening tools in primary care
* Develop culturally sensitive consumer education materials about the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and the value of early diagnosis and treatment
Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia - a progressive brain disease. It gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. Since people with Alzheimer's disease often experience difficulties in memory severe enough to impact many aspects of their daily lives, their families and friends are also often significantly impacted. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, there are treatments to help slow the progression of symptoms.
For more information on Alzheimer's disease and to take a simple memory screener for yourself or a loved one, log on to www.seethesigns.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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