Half of seniors with dementia don’t get tested
Nearly 2 million Americans over the age of 70 with dementia haven’t seen a doctor to be tested for their symptoms, says a new study.
Researchers at the University of Michigan hope the findings lead more people to be tested followed by treatment to alleviate their condition.
Of those seniors who did get tested and treated, most were married, study leaders found. Additionally, those with the most severe levels of cognitive problems were more likely to see a doctor.
The findings were published online in Neurology, from the American Academy of Neurology.
“Early evaluation and identification of people with dementia may help them receive care earlier,” said study author Dr. Vikas Kotagal, in a news release. “It can help families make plans for care, help with day-to-day tasks including observed medication administration, and watch for future problems that can occur. In some instances, these interventions could substantially improve the person’s quality of life.”
Kotagal noted that free dementia clinical testing now available to all seniors enrolled in Medicare.
But exactly why half the senior population with dementia won’t get tested isn’t entirely clear.
Researchers speculate that patients underestimate the seriousness of mental health problems.
“Many patients and physicians may perceive that clinical cognitive exams don’t have enough value. But experts have shown that they can improve medical outcomes and help reduce societal costs,” Kotagal said.
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