Diagnosing and Treating Alzheimer's Disease: A Practitioner's Overview

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PurposeTo provide an overview of current diagnostic protocols of Alzheimer's disease (AD), screening techniques, tests, and a review of standard and new treatments.Data SourcesSelected articles from the scientific literature, online sources, and standard texts were examined.ConclusionsStandard tools, such as the Geriatric Depression Scale, the Mini Mental State Evaluation, and the 7-Minute Screen, are useful in the primary care setting for screening elderly patients. Other tools, such as the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) and the Global Deterioration Scale, are useful for staging and monitoring progression of disease and response to treatment. Clinical diagnostic testing is still in developmental stages, but the hope is to have a reliable and objective diagnostic tool in order to diagnose AD in the earliest stages.Implications for PracticeThe diagnosis and treatment of AD is becoming a more frequent challenge in the primary care office. Clinicians must keep abreast of the rapid changes in new technologies in order to make informed diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.

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