Family members of individuals struck by Alzheimer’s disease and health-care providers can now find new guidelines online that describe best practices for detecting the disease and caring for those affected.

A statewide committee in Texas developed the Clinical Best Practices for the Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Pharmaceutical and Non-Pharmaceutical Treatment of Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease guidelines. They can be found at www.dshs.state.tx.us/alzheimers/.

The guidelines say doctors should routinely ask people over age 55 if they have experienced any changes in memory and thinking. They suggest using specific tests and say if those tests aren’t available, “name three objects and place them in different areas of the room. In 15 minutes, ask the patient the name of the objects and where they are located.”

Studies on drugs being used to slow down the disease’s progression are listed in the 30-page guide, along with such advice as encouraging patients to get regular physical activity.

About 5.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. That number could reach as many as 16 million by 2050 if prevention or treatment methods are not found, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.