Published on: September 13, 2011
by The Alzheimer’s Association:
A new report released by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) shows that there are a variety of beneficial treatments and interventions – including drug and non-drug therapies – for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, even in the early stages of the disease. In addition, the report’s review of economic models suggests a possible financial benefit to countries and healthcare systems with early diagnosis and treatment/intervention.
As a result, ADI recommends that every country develop a national dementia strategy that promotes early diagnosis and intervention. According to ADI, key pillars should include:
1) Raising awareness of the value of early detection and available interventions.
2) Strengthening the medical and service infrastructure.
3) Funding Alzheimer’s/dementia research – especially randomized controlled trials to test the efficacy of interventions specifically tailored to those with early-stage dementia.
The report also confirms a grave, worldwide “treatment gap” in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Through an extensive, first-time review of the research literature, the report demonstrates the overwhelming difference between the number of people with the disease –
more than 35 million worldwide – and those who have a formal diagnosis, with undiagnosed cases ranging from 20 percent in some countries to 90 percent in others.
The report, titled “World Alzheimer Report 2011: The Benefits of Early Diagnosis and Intervention,” was released during the first World Alzheimer’s Month. ADI is the international federation of Alzheimer’s associations throughout the world; the Alzheimer’s Association (U.S.) is a member of ADI. “We strongly support ADI’s call in the report for every country to have a national Alzheimer’s plan that promotes early diagnosis and treatment,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association vice president of public policy.
“As part of the Association’s participation in the development and implementation of a national Alzheimer’s plan in the United States, key elements of the findings of the new ADI report – such 2 as raising awareness of available options for people with Alzheimer’s, expanding services for people with dementia and their families, educating medical professionals about Alzheimer’s, strengthening the medical infrastructure, and funding more Alzheimer’s research – are all part of our vision for an effective and comprehensive Alzheimer’s plan that meets the needs of everyone involved,” Egge said.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, as many as half of the estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s do not have a diagnosis. Egge adds, “This compounds the burden of Alzheimer’s, making access to appropriate health care, information and support extremely difficult.”
A formal and documented diagnosis helps the individual and their family expect and explain behaviors, and opens doors to vital care and support services – including the option of participating in clinical trials. Early detection also allows for prompt evaluation and treatment of
reversible or treatable causes of memory and thinking problems.
Although it’s great to celebrate the big achievements, it’s also important to celebrate the small wins.
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