Dementia can be devastating, but what if it can also be detected and prevented early? “More than 7.2 million people currently live with dementia in the United States. In 60 to 80 percent of cases, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia,” the authors write in a recent publication. report from the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging. “Despite being a leading cause of death in the US, dementia is currently underdiagnosed or late-stage.” Read on to find out how to prevent it – and to protect your health and that of others, don’t miss this one Certain Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
“Research ratings estimate that between 40 and 60 percent of adults with probable dementia are undiagnosed. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment of dementia are critical to protecting individuals from risks of delayed or missed diagnosis and empowering individuals, their families and their caregivers are able to plan for the future as the condition progresses,” say the authors, Diane Ty and Mac McDermott.
“The Milken Institute estimates that the number of adults with ADRD will nearly double in the next 20 years, disproportionately affecting women and diverse communities, especially African Americans and Latinos,” the authors say. “As the demographic composition of the US grows older and more diverse, developing strategies to improve early detection and diagnosis becomes increasingly important. The Alliance believes the magnitude of the societal impact of dementia must be addressed by a workforce that capable of identification and quality care at diagnosis.”
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“Timely detection and diagnosis in adults at higher risk of dementia are critical for new treatments to take effect and to reduce risks or delay onset,” the authors report. “The Lancet Commission recently added three modifiable risk factors to the nine they identified and modeled in 2017. Together, these 12 modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, hearing loss, hypertension, obesity and depression, together account for about 40 percent of the global forms of dementia, which could be “theoretically prevented or delayed” if the risk factors were avoided. These developments, along with the consensus that brain changes can occur 10 to 20 years before signs of cognitive impairment are noticeable, suggest that more routine screening could motivate individuals to make lifestyle changes to reduce risk.”
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“Timely detection and diagnosis enable patients and their families to embrace lifestyle changes that can reduce risk or slow disease progression, access treatments to help manage symptoms, and proactively plan for future care,” the authors say. “Terry Fulmer, Ph.D., RN, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation” notes “that components for increasing detection—effective screening tools, workflows, training, billing codes, and ROI analysis—already exist, but are not merged and scaled.” Until the recommendations in the report are adopted and scaled up, see your doctor if you think you may be suffering from symptoms of dementia, including:
Memory loss, which is usually noticed by a spouse or someone else.
Difficulty communicating or finding words.
Difficulty with visual and spatial skills, such as getting lost while driving.
Difficulty reasoning or solving problems.
Difficult to perform complex tasks.
Difficulty planning and organizing.
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