All around the world, including Northbrook, Highland Park and the surrounding Northshore area, nearly 7% of people in their early 60s and about 38% of seniors aged 85 and up suffer from mild cognitive impairment, according to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Cognitive impairment could be due to a variety of reasons, including the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, a large percentage of patients with dementia often go undiagnosed. Therefore, experts are now urging physicians to give their senior patients, aged 65 and older, cognitive assessments at least once a year.
Patients who are experiencing memory or thinking problems may not recognize or may not be forthcoming with their symptoms and therefore get overlooked. In performing memory checks regularly, physicians can identify early signs of cognitive impairment. Physicians often use the Mini-Cog test to perform the assessment, asking patients to perform minor tasks, such as word recall. Early detection of cognitive impairment can help physicians to take the next step in identifying the cause of the impairment – for example, medication side effect, metabolic imbalance, depression, or Alzheimer’s – and finding possible treatments.
Although screenings alone may not diagnose dementia, it can be a very important first step. Dementia may not be reversible but identifying early signs can help to manage the symptoms and help to prepare the patient and their families for the upcoming changes.
To read more on the importance of early detection of cognitive impairment, visit the National Institute of Aging.
To learn more about the early signs of Alzheimer’s, visit us at www.DementiaHelpers.com.