May 4, 2009 -- Question: How important is it to get treated early for Alzheimer's disease?
Answer: It's very important that any symptoms of memory loss or thinking difficulties be assessed, and if there is a problem, it's important to know about that as early as possible. It's important both for instituting treatment and also making sure that the person doesn't go on any treatments for other conditions that might make their memory problem worse. Now whether or not this gets labeled as Alzheimer's disease is a topic of discussion in the field. In my view, patients should be told if they have Alzheimer's disease, but you don't have to make it into something very big and frightening. You can say you have a condition, it meets the criteria for what we callAlzheimer's disease, and then what you talk about are what your goals of therapy are. Those goals include maintaining the patient's lifestyle, and keeping them engaged in the world with the use of medications and non-pharmacologic treatment strategies.