Early Diagnosis Is Worth the Risk of Offending a Loved One

Early Diagnosis Is Worth the Risk of Offending a Loved One
Sadly, millions of people in the U.S. live with Alzheimer’s disease. Even sadder is that fewer than half of Alzheimer's patients or their caregivers report being told of the diagnosis by a healthcare provider. An Alzheimer’s Association report from 2015 indicated that only 45 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers say they were told the diagnosis by a physician. This is a staggering statistic. Imagine if a doctor knowingly withheld a breast cancer diagnosis. It would be devastating for the patient, even deadly. This is equally true for Alzheimer’s patients.

Early is sometimes late

Realistically, time is a great foe for Alzheimer’s patients, but in the beginning stages, timing is everything. Unfortunately, patients and their caregivers often receive the diagnosis after the disease has progressed. This impedes early detection, which is critical to slowing Alzheimer’s progressive destruction of the brain. The early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s don’t come early enough. By the time symptoms are noticeable, the disease may be further along than expected. Family members need to address slight but unusual changes in behavior.

Ignorance isn’t bliss

The truth won’t set people free from Alzheimer’s, but when armed with a diagnosis, patients and families have the proper footing to advance. Take the initiative. Familial caregivers must step into the fray with their loved ones and become a patient advocate.

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4 comments

  1. Charles P Duvall says:

    There is the assertion early Dx is very important but the reality is: what should be done when Dx is made early? Surely Aricept and Namenda are not effective enough to warrant the claim.???

    • Ray Burow says:

      Mr. Duvall,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, early diagnosis is imperative for a number of reasons, including the opportunity for treatment, during early onset. This was very beneficial for my mother and to our family. A clinical trial for dementia patients, appropriate medications, and periodic visits for neurological exams are essential for keeping the disease at bay, which was the case for my mother. However, the longer the wait, the less effective the results for slowing progression. Manufacturers of Namenda and Aricept, don’t claim to cure Alzheimer’s disease, but that the medication assists in slowing its progression. This was the case for my mother and our family. Early diagnosis, medication and the Lord above, allowed us to keep the disease at arms length for a number of years.

  2. I am an MD and we follow the Bredesen protocol. Read the book The End of Alzheimer’s.
    There are are so many underlying causes . What I see the most is toxins damaging the brain.
    Removing the assaults to the brain helps!!!
    The earlier we find that the less the brain has suffered.

  3. Ray Burow says:

    Dr. Panitch,

    Thank you for your comment. One of the concerns for caregivers is that doctors aren’t informing their loved ones regarding their dementia diagnosis (only 45 percent of Medicare patients are informed, according to the Alzheimer’s Association). Of course this is unfortunate and your practice DOESN’T fall under this category. Kudos to you.
    However, the lack of diagnosis by a significant percentage of doctors who fail to diagnose, speaks to your statement: “the longer the wait, the less effective the results for slowing progression.”

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