From a report from Ben Tinker, CNN
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's today, with another person developing the disease every 68 seconds. By 2050, the number of people living with Alzheimer's disease is expected to triple.
As if those numbers weren't staggering enough, consider this: Alzheimer's disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 (it's currently ranked No. 6) in the United States that can't be prevented, cured or slowed down.
Ask any expert, and he or she will tell you that early diagnosis is key to helping patients live better day today, so even though the disease is still progressing, the symptoms are less harsh.
"Our hope is that if we could identify patients who are developing the disease early, it would give us a much better opportunity to intervene with treatments, and it's much more likely for those treatments to be effective."Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
But while early diagnosis leads to early intervention, some news out of the 2013 Alzheimer's Association International Conference is troubling: An expert panel found 16 online tests for Alzheimer's disease scored poorly on scales of overall scientific validity, reliability and ethical factors.
"Self-diagnosis behavior ... is increasingly popular online, and freely accessible quizzes that call themselves 'tests' for Alzheimer's are available on the Internet."
"However, little is known about the scientific validity and reliability of these offerings and ethics-related factors, including research and commercial conflict of interest, confidentiality and consent."
"Frankly," Robillard adds, "what we found online was distressing and potentially harmful." Robillard and her colleagues at the University of British Columbia found that unique monthly visitors for the parent sites hosting the online tests reached as high as 8.8 million.Julie Robillard, University of British Columbia
At the same conference, another study concluded that the misdiagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in Medicare patients who actually have vascular dementia or Parkinson's disease leads to substantial excess costs of care. The study, conducted by Analysis Group, Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co., found the costs of erroneous care to be in excess of $14,000 a year per patient .
The silver lining: Those excess costs decline and eventually dissipate following a correct diagnosis.
"Recent developments in technology have greatly improved our ability to properly diagnose patients with cognitive impairment."
"Our results suggest that there are economic benefits to properly diagnosing -- as early as possible -- the cause of the cognitive impairment."Noam Kirson, Analysis Group
If you suspect a family member or friend is developing Alzheimer's, take a look at these 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease, put together by the Alzheimer's Association:
1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
Rather than diagnose Alzheimer's disease at home, head to your doctor's office. You can also find more information at www.alz.org, or by calling the Alzheimer's Association's 24-hour hotline at (800) 272-3900.
The importance of early detection and early intervention can't be stressed strongly enough. It could mean added years of lucidity and life for you or someone you love.
From a planning point of view, many experts suggest Long-Term Care Insurance and other savings plans to be part of a retirement plan well before someone has any health issues.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
People require long-term care due to illness, accident or the impact of aging. Longevity increases these risks. As we reach certain age milestones our risk of cognitive decline increases as well. The cost of care, including supervision due to memory loss, is expensive. It also places tremendous burdens on those you love. For many American families Long-Term Care Insurance is an easy and affordable solution.
It is always advised to seek the help of a qualified Long-Term Care specialist. They will assist you in designing an appropriate plan and then shop for the best coverage at the best value. Click here to find a specialist. Meanwhile, look at the LTC News Map and find your state. You will see the current cost of long-term care services with the LTC NEWS cost of care calculator. You will also find the availability of partnership plans and tax incentives that may be available in your state. Click here for the LTC News Map.
Planning for the financial costs and burdens of aging is more than just abut money. It is all about family and how your family is impacted by your future need for extended care. Without advance planning your family will go through crisis management. They will either become caregivers or will end up managing your care while spending your money. Either way, this placing a huge amount of pressure and stress on them.
Be sure you start planning before your health changes. Every insurance company has different underwriting criteria. It is always best to start your research in your 40s or 50s but a specialist can help you at most ages.