Seniors, Dementia & Research Trends

dementia & Nursing Home CareAlzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death and accounts for up to 80 percent of all dementia cases: killing more than 83,000 people annually.

Other types of dementia include:

  • vascular dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease

Those afflicted with these illnesses are most often in need of an adult child or guardian to advocate for them. Needs arise for home health care, frequent doctor visits, home modification, and 24-hour care to provide safety, managing finances, and the list goes on. Other issues arise when a long-time home and possessions have to be sold and a loved one must move to a sheltered environment like a senior community with memory care.

Possible Early Detection:

It is an understatement to say these are very significant numbers. But researchers are looking for the answers to whether using a yearly screening tool during a Medicare yearly well-visit is useful. Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to an annual wellness visit under the Affordable Care Act: there is no out-of-pocket charge. In addition to routine check-up items like measuring weight blood pressure, and evaluating medication effectiveness, the visit covers an evaluation for cognitive impairment. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that seniors undergo cognitive impairment screening and evaluation with a trained medical professional to establish a baseline for comparison, and then have regular follow-up assessments in subsequent years.

More Research Needs To Be Done!

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of medical experts who have come to the conclusion there is NOT sufficient evidence to screen yearly for dementia. The conclusion is the same from a study performed more than a decade ago, when it last evaluated dementia screening. Experts say the evidence is crystal clear in one respect: More research needs to be done. Those who treat older adults have been tasked to, “use their best judgment.” That can be tough when dementia causes so many emotions.

What is your opinion on this topic?