Medical groups agree: Resources for treating people with Alzheimer's are available but underutilized

December 05, 2002

ST. PAUL, MN (December 5, 2002) -- Care of people with Alzheimer's disease is a challenging task but can be improved, according to seven medical organizations that met to discuss strengths and potential pitfalls in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.P> Meeting recently in Chicago, the American Academy of Neurology, Alzheimer's Association, American Medical Association, American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, American Geriatric Society, American Medical Directors Association and the World Federation of Neurology determined that more than two dozen practice guidelines exist to provide guidance to clinicians, yet many may not be taking advantage of the guidelines available.

"There is a lot known about caring for people with Alzheimer's disease and a lot of resources are available," according to Stephen McConnell, a principal with the Alzheimer's Association. "However, we are concerned that many clinicians may not be aware of the guidelines and are not utilizing them in their practices."

Attendees (including executive directors, board members, and presidents of medical groups that provide services to Alzheimer's patients and their families) determined that there is widespread agreement among the guidelines, and advised that it would be helpful if clinicians who care for people with Alzheimer's disease obtain and follow the guidelines provided by their specialty society. Doing so may improve the quality of care provided to these patients. They also agreed on the importance of incorporating practice guidelines into medical education, accreditation, certification and re-certification programs.

With the number of people with Alzheimer's expected to swell from 4 million in 2002, to about 14 million by 2050, "We need to provide tools to help more physicians diagnose and treat people dealing with this devastating disease," said Catherine Rydell, executive director and CEO of the American Academy of Neurology. Representatives of the seven organizations emphasized the following important principles in caring for people with Alzheimer's disease:
"Clinicians may make a difference in the quality of life of patients with Alzheimer's disease if they follow guideline recommendations," said Rydell.
-end-
Contacts: Kathy Stone, American Academy of Neurology, 651-695-2763
Elizabeth Wilson, Alzheimer's Association, 312-335-5814
Daniel Blaney-Koen, American Medical Association, 312-464-4415
Peter Whitehouse, MD,World Federation of Neurology, 216-844-6448
Scott Kramer, American Geriatric Society, 212-308-1414
Joel Streim, MD, American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, 215-615-3086
Janet Kreizman, American Medical Directors Association, 410-740-9743

American Academy of Neurology

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