A Place for Mom

How to Protect Your Parents From Alzheimer’s Cure Scams

Casey Kelly-Barton
By Casey Kelly-BartonMay 27, 2019
How to Protect Your Parents From Alzheimer’s Cure Scams

Alzheimer’s disease is the health condition that many fear the most. That concern can prompt us to eat well, exercise, get regular health checkups and follow our doctors’ recommendations. However, for some older adults, the fear of the disease leads to wasting money on Alzheimer’s cure scams that at best do nothing and at worst may cause harm.

Learn more about how to protect your parents and senior loved ones from Alzheimer’s cure scams during this time.

Alzheimer’s Cure Scams

Alzheimer’s and dementia treatment scams are big business. Some manufacturers know that seniors fear Alzheimer’s and have money to spend. Seniors are also uniquely vulnerable to scams.

A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor

Talk with a Senior Living Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

As we age, our brains can change in ways that make us less aware when something important is happening nearby and reduce our ability to read social cues. Researchers say those brain changes can make us more vulnerable to scammers.

The good news is that the FDA is cracking down on companies that prey on people’s desperation for an Alzheimer’s cure. Earlier this year, the agency acted against makers of 58 products that claimed to treat the disease, but didn’t have FDA approval or proof that they worked.

The bad news is there are still unproven products out there being sold to seniors and their family members who are desperate for some sense of hope.

The FDA says in some cases, they can interact with prescription medications and harm the people who take them.

How to Protect Your Parents From Alzheimer’s Cure Scams

How can you tell if an Alzheimer’s treatment or dementia supplement is worthwhile? Here’s a checklist based on tips from the Alzheimer’s Association and the FDA.

  • Does the product appear on the FDA’s Flickr account? The agency has a photostream of products that have made unproven Alzheimer’s claims. The photos include close-ups of the products’ labels and packaging.
  • Does the product claim to cure Alzheimer’s or dementia? Again, the FDA notes that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s.
  • Does the product claim to reverse dementia symptoms? The FDA says there’s no product or FDA-approved treatment that can stop or reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms.
  • Does the product say it can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by a specific amount? The FDA says there’s no proof to back up such claims.

Some products are marketed with vague language that is misleading, scientists say. Look for these types of statements:

  • Does the product claim to be a “scientific breakthrough?” That’s a general term that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
  • Does the product claim to help with lots of illnesses, not only Alzheimer’s? The FDA says you should “steer clear” of products that made broad, vague health claims.
  • Does the product mention results in the lab or in animals? Those results don’t prove the treatment will help people.
  • Does the product say it “may” help with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia? That means the product may or may not, and your parents may be better off saving their money.

Finally, remember that dietary supplements marketed to Alzheimer’s patients may seem legitimate because they’re available at the drugstore, but the evidence may not support dementia claims. Check the Alzheimer’s Association list of commonly recommended supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids and Ginkgo biloba to learn what they can and can’t do.

If you go through the checklist and you’re still not sure if a product is legitimate, ask their doctor. Your parent’s doctor knows which treatments and over-the-counter supplements may be helpful for your parent’s overall health. They also know which might interfere with their medications and which would be a waste of money.

Other Ways to Combat Alzheimer’s Scams

If you think your parent participated in any Alzheimer’s scams or if you suspect a product is a scam, you can report it to the FDA. Use the online form for reporting unlawful sales of medical products on the internet.

You can also file a complaint with the attorney general in the state where your parents live.

If your parents have taken a supplement that harmed them, you can report it to the Department of Health and Human Services. Of course, encourage your parent to talk about it with their doctor.

Have you, a parent or senior loved one been involved in any Alzheimer’s cure scams? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

Related Articles:

Casey Kelly-Barton
Casey Kelly-Barton

A Place for Mom is paid by our participating communities, therefore our service is offered at no charge to families. Copyright © 2020 A Place for Mom, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privacy & Terms. Do Not Sell My Personal Information.