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September 15th, 2011
Early Dementia Remains Difficult for GP’s to Diagnose

Early Dementia Remains Difficult for GP’s to Diagnose

September is Alzheimer’s awareness month, and with progress being made to understand the mysteries inside our aging craniums, and current treatment options focused on establishing early diagnosis, are we at least now able to make correct and prompt early dementia diagnoses?

Many early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are ambiguous or simply not recognizable, especially by a general practitioner (GP) who may only see their patients irregularly and then depend on observations from patients themselves, caregivers, and family members.

Mild coordination problems may be present, but most of the early symptoms include mood shifts, communication problems and cognitive or memory loss concerns, in other words, invisible symptoms.  Often, people who experience early symptoms of memory loss try to hide this fact from others out of fear.

A recent meta-analysis completed by researchers from UK’s University of Leicester involved over 15 thousand people seen by general practitioners, including over 7 thousand with some cognitive impairment.  Only 45% of people with early dementia and mild cognitive impairment were properly identified.  Mild cognitive impairment is a condition thought to precede dementia.

Researcher and consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Alex Mitchell said, “This study highlights for the first time that GP’s trying to identify dementia actually make more false positive errors, with misidentifications outnumbering missed cases at least two to one.”  Part of this misdiagnosis is due to the fact that “patients with depression or hearing problems were more at risk of being misidentified” suggested Dr. Mitchell.

Perhaps more responsibility needs to be placed on family members and friends to notice early symptoms in a loved one, rather than relying on GP’s.  Learn about the 10 early signs of dementia, normal aging vs. Alzheimer’s disease, and when it might be time to see a doctor.   Contact your local Premier Homecare Services and ask about our homecare services.  Our professional in-home caregivers have dementia and Alzheimer’s training and are skilled at recognizing early symptoms of memory loss and dementia in our clients.

RELATED POSTS & RESOURCES:

Are There Ways I Can Prevent Alzheimer’s? – Premier Homecare Services Blog
GP’s Missing Early Dementia – University ofLeicester
Early Detection by Family Members and Friends – On Memory

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