Most Cases of Dementia Go Undiagnosed

credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are already significant health concerns for older people. More than one in ten older person on Medicare is currently being treated for Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, making these disorders the Number 9 most common chronic condition for seniors. With the aging of America, we can expect they will only become more significant.

However, the results of a study conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine indicate that the problem is far worse than we realize. The report, which was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, indicates that nearly 60% “of older adults with probable dementia in the United States have never been professionally diagnosed or were unaware they have been.”

The study found one risk factor in particular made it more likely that dementia would go unnoticed: a person going to a doctor’s visit by themselves. If the cognitive deficits are not glaring, the practitioner may not take note of symptoms. However, if a person goes to the doctor with a family member or friend, that person may be able to better convey some of the difficulties the patient is having. And if the healthcare practitioner does diagnose the dementia? If the patient has seen the doctor alone, they are twice as likely to be unaware that they have been diagnosed than a patient who saw the doctor with someone accompanying them.

Two other risk factors for going undiagnosed, or being diagnosed but unaware, are having fewer impairments, and having less education. Being Hispanic was itself a risk factor for having undiagnosed dementia.

The researchers hope that their findings will alert clinicians to patients who need more careful screening and follow-up.

At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we provide care specifically designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive disorders. 

For the safety and well-being of our cognitively impaired residents, we have a separate secure unit, whose wide corridors are homelike and easy to navigate. Our goal is to create an environment with a sense of familiarity and security. 

The caregivers in our Alzheimer’s unit are specially trained to care for memory impaired residents. With their extra sensitivity and understanding of the condition and its impact, our caregivers treat each resident with dignity and love. 

Our care program for the cognitively impaired helps residents maximize cognitive function. Likewise, the activities program is designed to foster social interaction and an appreciation of life. 

For people in more advanced stages, innovative sensory therapies such as audiovisual stimuli and aromatherapy are beneficial in inducing a sense of calm. 

Read our reviews on caring.com, wellness.com, and senioradvisor.com to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.

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