THE ALZHEIMER’S DISCONNECT

A new Alzheimer’s Association report shows a significant disconnect between seniors and their doctors when it comes to assessing whether they have become victims of this disease. We have the details on their findings.

For more information on the NYC chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, click here.

Aired May 7, 2019 and August 28, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

HERE IS A STAGGERING FIGURE FOR YOU.

OVER 5 MILLION AMERICANS ARE LIVING WITH ALZHEIMER'S.

OVER 400,000 OF THEM ARE NEW YORKERS.

THE DISEASE WHICH ROBS SO MANY OF THEIR MEMORIES AND CREATES A HUGE BURDEN ON THEIR CARETAKERS IS REACHING PANDEMIC PROPORTIONS.

ON A MISSION TO ELIMINATE THE DISEASE THROUGH RESEARCH AND SUPPORT FOR THOSE AFFECTED IS THE ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION.

THE ORGANIZATION HAS RELEASED A STARTLING FACT, ONLY HALF OF ALL SENIORS ARE ACTUALLY ASSESSED FOR THINKING AND MEMORY ISSUES.

THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES WHY?

HERE ARE SOME DETAILS AND THOUGHTS ON ALL OF THIS.

DR. ANA THE DIRECTOR OF PROGRAM FOR THE ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION NEW YORK CITY CHAPTER.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US TODAY.

LET ME START THEN WITH SOME OF THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY AND SOME OF THE THINGS YOU'RE FINDING OUT THERE THAT MAY WELL BE SURPRISING.

START OFF WITH THE NOTION THAT SAYS, MEDICARE.

AS PART OF YOUR YEARLY HEALTH ASSESSMENT, THERE'S SUPPOSED TO BE SOME COGNITIVE TESTING DONE.

YET, AS I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION, IT'S NOT DONE AT ALL CLOSE TO WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT IT TO BE.

WHY IS THAT?

SO WHAT WE FOUND FROM THE STUDY IS THAT THERE WAS A MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

ON THE ONE HAND, WE HAD PATIENTS WHO THOUGHT IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO TALK TO THEIR DOCTOR.

WE ALSO HAD DOCTORS WHO FOUND IT WAS IMPORTANT, BUT PATIENTS WERE WAITING FOR THEIR DOCTOR TO BRING IT UP AND PHYSICIANS WERE WAITING FOR THE PATIENTS TO BRING UP THE MEMORY CONCERN.

SO CLEARLY, THERE'S A MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

WE WANT TO BRING AWARENESS TO THIS, MAKE SURE THAT SENIORS KNOW THEY SHOULD BE TALKING TO THEIR DOCTOR.

IF THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT SYMPTOMS TO BE LOOKING FOR, WE ENCOURAGE THEM TO CALL OUR 24/7 HELP LINE WHERE THEY CAN GET INFORMATION, BE CONNECTED TO WORKSHOPS ON THE 10 WARNING SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER'S AND HOW TO TALK TO THEIR DOCTOR.

LET ME COME BACK TO THE ONE THING YOU SAID.

LET'S START WITH THE SENIORS.

THEN WE'LL TALK ABOUT THE DOCTORS.

THEY SHOULD BE GETTING SOME TESTING FOR IT BUT WHAT ARE SOME OF THE REASONS WHY THEY DON'T SAY, DOCTOR, ASK ME SOME QUESTIONS HERE?

WE FOUND IN OUR STUDY THAT ABOUT A THIRD OF SENIORS REPORTED FEAR OF FINDING OUT.

THERE WERE ABOUT 20% OF SENIORS WE SURVEYED THAT DIDN'T THINK THERE WERE TREATMENTS AVAILABLE, SO SAID, WHY BOTHER.

WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE KNOW THERE ARE TREATMENTS AVAILABLE, THAT IT'S OKAY TO BE A LITTLE NERVOUS TO GET A COGNITIVE ASSESSMENT BUT IT'S A ROUTINE ASSESSMENT THAT CAN HAPPEN AT THE DOCTOR'S VISIT.

SO IT'S STILL VERY IMPORTANT TO BRING UP WITH THEIR DOCTOR BECAUSE THERE ARE THINGS THAT CAN BE DONE AND MANAGE PEOPLE'S ANXIETY, FEARS, AS WELL AS LETTING THEM KNOW THAT THERE ARE TREATMENTS AVAILABLE IF SOMETHING WAS DISCOVERED.

FROM THE DOCTOR'S PERSPECTIVE, WHY ARE THEY NOT ON THEIR OWN SAYING SIT DOWN, WE HAVE ANOTHER PART OF THE EXAM TO ENGAGE IN?

DOCTORS WE FOUND ARE WAITING FOR PATIENTS TO BRING UP SYMPTOMS OR CONCERNS.

OTHER DOCTORS MENTION THAT LACK OF TIME WAS AN ISSUE IN TERMS OF THEIR BUSY SCHEDULES.

ALSO, DOCTORS MENTIONED THAT THEY WERE UNSURE WHAT COGNITIVE ASSESSMENTS.

SO THERE ARE CERTAINLY AREAS WHERE WE CAN FURTHER SUPPORT PHYSICIANS AND THAT'S SOMETHING WE DO AT THE ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION FOR PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS.

WE HAVE EDUCATION.

WE HAVE OUR COGNITIVE ASSESSMENT TOOL KIT THAT'S AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB SITE TO EDUCATE PHYSICIANS ABOUT WHAT THEY CAN DO IN ROUTINE CHECK-UPS TO ASSESS FOR MEMORY OR THINKING CONCERNS OF THEIR PATIENTS.

WHAT IS THE, ESSENTIALLY, THE COGNITIVE ASSESSMENT THAT SHOULD BE TAKING PLACE IN YOUR DOCTOR'S OFFICE.

THE REALITY IS THESE ARE BRIEF ASSESSMENTS THAT CAN BE DONE IN PRIMARY CARE THAT CAN BE DONE IN FIVE OR TEN MINUTES.

COGNITIVE ASSESSMENTS ARE DIFFERENT BUT THEY CAN OBSERVE IN TERMS OF THINKING TESTS, OR TALKING TO FAMILY, BUT THIS CAN BE BROUGHT UP IN A ROUTINE CHECK-UP.

PEOPLE SHOULD BE BROACHING THIS CONVERSATION.

DOCTORS ARE INCREDIBLY RECEPTIVE, MORE THAN 90% OF DOCTORS SAID THEY WOULD ASSESS PEOPLE IF A FAMILY MEMBER OR THE PATIENT THEMSELVES BROUGHT IT UP.

NOT THAT THEY DON'T WANT TO DO IT.

THEY'RE WAITING TO BE ASKED.

EXACTLY.

LET ME TALK NOW ABOUT SOME OF THE SERVICES AND THE THINGS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO HELP CAREGIVERS?

SO WE HAVE A HOST OF FREE SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR CAREGIVERS.

WE HAVE OUR 24/7 HELP LINE.

SO A CAREGIVER CAN CALL ANY TIME OF THE DAY OR NIGHT AND TALK TO A SOCIAL WORKER OR COUNSELOR WITH EMOTIONAL SUPPORT OR ALSO REFERRALS TO PROGRAMS THAT ARE HAPPENING IN THEIR COMMUNITY.

WE HAVE EDUCATIONAL WORKSHOPS, SUPPORT GROUPS, OTHER THINGS ALL FREE OF CHARGE THAT CAN SUPPORT CAREGIVERS AS THEY'RE EXPERIENCING THESE ISSUES.

WE CAN ALSO, YOU KNOW, SIT DOWN AND STRATEGIZE BECAUSE MANY TIMES, FAMILY MEMBERS ARE SEEING MEMORY ISSUES.

THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO BRING UP THE CONVERSATION WITH THE PERSON THAT THEY CARE ABOUT.

HOW ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING IN THE THROES OF THIS?

YOU MENTIONED BEFORE, I KNOW A LOT SAY, WHY SHOULD I BOTHER?

I CAN'T GET ANY HELP.

THIS IS NOT GOING TO GET ANY BETTER.

BUT THERE ARE THINGS, STILL, YOU CAN PROVIDE FOR THEM TO HELP THEM IN THEIR DAILY LIVES?

TALK ABOUT THAT.

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, IT'S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT THESE WARNING SIGNS ARE WARNING SIGNS THAT CAN BE CAUSED BY MANY DIFFERENT REASONS.

IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN IT'S ALZHEIMER'S.

IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO RECOGNIZE THAT AND ONLY A DOCTOR WHO CAN MAKE THAT CLINICAL EVALUATION AND DIAGNOSIS AND THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE TREATMENT WILL DEPEND ON WHAT'S ACTUALLY CAUSING THE SYMPTOMS.

I THINK THAT'S AN IMPORTANT POINT.

SO THERE ARE, IN FACT, MANY THINGS WE CAN DO FROM THE CLINICAL PERSPECTIVE IN TERMS OF TREATMENT, BUT ALSO, WAYS THAT WE CAN SUPPORT PEOPLE.

AND LONG-TERM CARE PLANNING IS VERY IMPORTANT.

GETTING THE FAMILY TOGETHER, MAKING SURE THAT WISHES AND VALUES ARE COMMUNICATED TO THE FAMILY, SO MAKING SURE AFFAIRS ARE IN ORDER LIKE A HEALTH CARE PROXY ARE VERY IMPORTANT AS WE THINK ABOUT HOW TO RESPOND.

SO THOSE ARE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO BOTH ON THE CLINICAL SIDE BUT AS WELL, THE PERSONAL AND CARE PLANNING SIDE.

SO WHERE ARE WE IN TERMS OF THE RESEARCH THAT'S BEING DONE BY THE ASSOCIATION AND ANY PROGRESS IN DEALING WITH THIS INSIDIOUS DISEASE?

I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF PROGRESS THAT WE SEE.

WE ARE ONE OF THE LARGESTSCIENTISTS ALL ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.

WE HAVE A NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND PROMISING DATA COMING OUT.

WHAT WE BELIEVE WILL PROBABLY BE HAPPENING IS THAT IT WON'T BE A SILVER BULLET, BUT RATHER, WE'LL HAVE MULTIPLE WAYS OF SUPPORTING PEOPLE, DIAGNOSING PEOPLE EARLY AS WELL AS TREATING PEOPLE WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, BUT THERE'S A LOT OF PROMISING RESEARCH.

ONE OF THE AREAS THAT IS INCREDIBLY PROMISING IS IN TERMS OF BLOOD PRESSURE CONTROL AND WE'VE SEEN SOME PRELIMINARY STUDIES THAT TIGHT BLOOD PRESSURE CONTROL CAN ACTUALLY DECREASE THE CHANCES OF MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS BEFORE ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.

SO THAT IS INCREDIBLY PROMISING THAT WE WILL HAVE SOMETHING IN THE NEAR FUTURE, IN ADDITION TO THE MEDICATIONS THAT WE ALREADY HAVE TO TREAT ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.

IN ADDITION TO THE PROGRESS BEING MADE, WE THANK YOU AND ALL THE FOLKS IN YOUR CHAPTER AND THE ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION FOR ALL THE GOOD WORK YOU'RE DOING FOR PEOPLE OUT THERE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

WE'LL TALK WITH YOU AGAIN AS WE CONTINUE THIS BATTLE THAT WE'RE INVOLVED IN.

THANK YOU.

A REMINDER FOR YOU.

MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROGRAMS OFFERED BY THE ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION, YOU CAN VISIT OUR WEB SITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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