Then - Now
The first sign of dementia can typically be memory problems. Initially perceived as mild, patients may delay mentioning cognitive issues, like word-finding, to their general practitioners. In the past, this has led to a diagnosis guessing game, with definitive proof arriving only after death. Not too long ago, Alzheimer’s Disease could only be detected during an autopsy, when amyloid plaques and tangles in brain tissue were observed.
Today, Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most common causes of dementia among the elderly (65+) and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Although technology has improved, which can aid in detection, diagnosis is costly and timeconsuming—time being one of the most precious commodities for those losing their memories promise for a cure, the eventual outcome is bleak. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia are not a normal part of aging. It can be emotionally and financially exhausting to patients and care givers. And with no promise for a cure, the eventual outcome is bleak
Expensive – $5,000-$10,000+ per patient
Lengthy – 1+ years to rule out other potential causes for memory loss or cognitive issues
Inexact – No known specific cause, just like cancer and cardiac disease
Incurable – Some drugs slow clinical progression of AD, whereas others have accelerated cognitive loss, suggesting that AD medicines are not one-size-fits-all
Antiquated – No new drugs have been approved by the FDA for AD treatment since 2003
Exhaustive – Care-givers provide 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care*
Plus, there is no effective screening at the primary care level to determine which patients should be referred to further testing neurodegenerative diseases.