Submitted by Pablo Retana on March 27, 2015 16:55
Fewer than 50% of people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are actually told about their diagnosis, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Doctors tend to leave out this tidbit because they don’t want to distress the patient, but they’re actually doing them a disservice. First of all, “there are lots of other fatal diseases a doctor give diagnoses for,” as vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer's Association Beth Kallmyer put it. Moreover, the patient’s family is left with less time to make financial plans and establish a caregiving team. Regarding that, the report also highlighted the financial toll of the condition – approximately $218 billion for the 85% of patient relatives who provide unpaid caregiving duties. The direct cost of Alzheimer is expected to reach $226 billion this year, in terms of medical, hospice, and long-term care.
In addition to doctors not wanting to be the bearers of bad news – and if that’s the case, they might want to revise their career choice – they may also lack the time and/or the training to provide a diagnosis. “Primary care doctors have very, very limited time to spend with patients. And to assess someone with brain failure, you need a substantial bit of time,” geriatric psychiatrist and director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute Pierre Tariot said. “Everybody understands that doctors are under enormous pressure to do a lot in a short period of time, and talking about Alzheimer's disease takes time,” Kallmyer added. Doctors were found more likely to offer a diagnosis in the later stages of the disease.