If you notice any of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's disease in yourself or someone you know, schedule an appointment with your doctor. An early diagnosis of Alzheimer's provides a range of benefits for the individuals who are diagnosed.
“Today” show anchor Natalie Morales says memory loss was a warning sign of Alzheimer’s in her mother-in-law.
Getting checked by your doctor can help determine what's causing symptoms. If Alzheimer’s is the cause, an early diagnosis allows you:
- Access to treatment options: Current medications do not cure Alzheimer’s, but one treatment — aducanumab (Aduhelm™) — is the first therapy to demonstrate that removing amyloid, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, from the brain is reasonably likely to reduce cognitive and functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer’s. (Access to aducanumab is limited, as is Medicaid coverage of the drug. Ask your doctor about availability.) Others may help lessen symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, for a limited time. An early Alzheimer’s diagnosis provides you with a better chance of benefiting from treatment.
- An opportunity to participate in clinical trials: An early diagnosis makes individuals eligible for a wider variety of clinical trials, which advance research and may provide medical benefits.
If we could have had a correct diagnosis for my wife even two years earlier, it would have given us more time to plan and to accomplish things we always wanted to do.
- A chance to prioritize your health: Some lifestyle changes, such as controlling blood pressure, stopping smoking, participating in exercise, and staying mentally and socially active, may help preserve cognitive function.
Emotional and social benefits
Receiving an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis may help lessen anxieties about why you are experiencing symptoms. You and your family also have the opportunity to maximize your time together and access resources and support programs.
More time to plan for the future
Map out your plan to approach Alzheimer’s with Alzheimer’s Navigator®, an online tool that helps individuals living with Alzheimer's, their families and caregivers create a customized action plan to proactively face this disease.
Do you know who you would want to make decisions for you in the event you’re no longer able to? An earlier diagnosis also allows you to be open with your family and support network about what you want during each stage of the disease. This can give you peace of mind, reduce the burden on family members and prevent disagreements.
Planning ahead allows you to express your wishes about legal, financial and end-of-life decisions
. You and your family will be able to review and update legal documents, discuss finances and property, and identify your care preferences. You can also address potential safety issues, such as driving or wandering, ahead of time.
Early diagnosis saves costs of medical and long-term care for both families and the U.S. government. Among all Americans alive today, if those who will get Alzheimer's disease were diagnosed when they had mild cognitive impairment, before dementia, it would collectively save approximately $7 trillion* in health and long-term care costs.