Diagnosis & Treatment
How is Alzheimer's Disease diagnosed?
Alzheimer's disease is very often underdiagnosed. This occurs for a variety of reasons. Patients often develop incredibly good coping mechanisms to hide the early stages. Family members often help with this coping unknowingly. They may feel "Mom" is getting older, a "little forgetful" and often help out around the house, do some cleaning, purchase groceries, set our medicines, cook some meals, and drive Mom around since she doesn't drive anymore. Many physicians are busy and often fail to adequately screen patients for dementia. Many screens can be accomplished in 1-2 minutes, but in busy practices, this is often overlooked. The patient and family are unaware that the memory loss Mom is experiencing is much more than would be expected for normal aging. When the busy physician is seeing Mom for her unrelated problem, he doesn't consider it a high priority to screen for dementia. It is easy to see how nearly 50% of individuals with Alzheimer's disease are undiagnosed.
Early diagnosis is so very important for Alzheimer's disease. Since the majority of these patients eventually require nursing home placement, early diagnosis coupled with appropriate early treatment may very likely delay nursing home placement for years. At an average cost of $60,000-$70,000 per year for nursing home placement, one can easily see the economic impact of early detection and treatment.
Managing Alzheimer's disease is a complex task. Certainly, assessing medication effect for the patient is important, but the assessment and management of all the aspects of caretaking is equally important. At the Memory & Aging Center, our thought is: Who better than a passionate, trained famly doctor to manage the Alzheimer patient and his/her family? It is our hope that we can provide an excellent service for the Alzheimer patient in the greater Terre Haute area and the Wabash Valley.
At the present time, there is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease. Current medications are only moderately effective at best; however, as new medications are introduced, early detection will remain important.
With the help of our outstanding team of physicians, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers, community health workers, and our partnership with the Alzheimer's Association, we tailor each individual treatment plan according to the stage of the disease.