Addressing the Alzheimer’s diagnosis hurdle

Despite the fact that Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death without a prevention or cure, half of the seven million Americans – including 91,000 Coloradans – living with the disease are never diagnosed. Without a diagnosis, those people cannot take advantage of new medications, lifestyle interventions and other treatments that might prolong their cognitive life.

The Alzheimer’s Association and Denver-based CenExel Rocky Mountain Clinical Research (RMCR) are partnering to help encourage older adults to take advantage of free healthcare resources that can enable them to maximize their brain health for their lifetime. CenExel RMCR is offering a free memory evaluation to adults over the age of 50 who either are experiencing memory loss or have a family history of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

The 60- to 90-minute evaluation includes a review of the patient’s concerns about memory loss, education on the stages of memory loss and dementia, testing and discussion with a doctor. If warranted, the evaluation could lead to a recommendation that the patient meet with their family physician for a more in-depth examination. In addition, it could lead to a discussion on currently recruiting clinical trials, if appropriate.

“There are a number of conditions that can mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia,” said Dr. Katherine Coerver, behavioral neurologist with CenExel RMCR. “Depression, anxiety, vitamin deficiency, certain medications, and issues with the functioning of our liver, kidney or thyroid are among the conditions that could be mistaken for dementia.”

An aging society

The importance of getting an accurate diagnosis is increasing as our population ages. Approximately one in nine people (10.9%) over age 65 is living with Alzheimer’s disease. The population of Americans age 65 and older is projected to grow from 58 million in 2022 to 82 million by 2050.

“The need for early and accurate diagnosis is more urgent than ever,” said Kelly Osthoff, senior director of Programs for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. “And a higher percentage of our population will benefit from the programs and services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, but only if they understand their medical condition.”

Osthoff noted that all Americans are eligible through Medicare to have a free cognitive screening during their annual physical after they turn 65. The screenings offered by CenExel RMCR are a good supplement to that benefit.

To learn more about the programs and services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association at no charge to families, call the Association’s free 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900, or go to www.alz.org. To learn more about the no-cost memory evaluations offered by CenExel RMCR, go to CenExel.com/RMCR.

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