Dementia: Under-diagnosed or Over-diagosed?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Turns out that it is probably both.

In many instances, physicians jump to conclusions based on a short interview with the patient and family members and do not perform a diagnostic work-up in accordance with published guidelines. Often times, the reported symptoms are due to existing medications, a completely treatable metabolic disorder, or even depression.

In other instances, troubling signs of cognitive decline are ignored or attributed to normal aging when a more astute diagnostician would uncover the telltale signs of stroke or early stage Alzheimer's disease. In either case, informed medical advice and appropriate treatment could reduce the risk of further rapid decline.

The under/over diagnosis problem was summarized nicely yesterday in this piece from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It is a widespread problem and one you should be aware about if seeking medical attention in this field.

One more note. Situations like this arise sometimes for good reasons. Usually it is when advances in knowledge are happening rapidly, as they are in the dementia field, and new information cannot be assimilated by the practicing medical community as quickly as researchers are pushing the field forward. No physician, regardless of their acumen, can stay abreast of all medical advances in real time.

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