Report finds few seniors are getting routine memory checkups

There are nearly 6-million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and the number is expected to grow in the coming years without a major medical breakthrough, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Alzheimer’s association`s released new data that determined very few seniors are being routinely assessed for issues with their thinking or memory, which is important for the early Alzheimer’s detection.

  • The total number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to rise by double-digit percentages in every single state. In Alabama, it’s projected to rise percent, which is middle of the pack. Arizona looks to be the highest, with a 42.9 percent increase projected. This likely due to the first wave of baby boomers reaching age 85 in 2031.
  • Deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased significantly, more than doubling. Deaths from other major causes are decreasing. The mortality rate in Alabama in 2017 was 52.6 percent. Ahead of Mississippi and Vermont only.
  • Two-thirds of caregivers are women. One in 3 is over 65. Over 60 percent are married, living with a partner, or in a long-term relationship. 41 percent have a household income of less than $50K/year. One quarter is in the “sandwich generation” caring for kids at home as well.
  • There are an estimated 18.5 billion hours of unpaid care in 2018. The average is 21.9 hours of care per caregiver per week.
  • 30-40 percent of family caregivers suffer depression, compared to 5 to 17 percent of non-caregivers.
  • Only 16 percent of seniors receive regular cognitive assessments during routine health checkups.

A brief cognitive assessment is a short evaluation to determine brain function and is performed by a health care provider. These evaluations may include asking a patient about cognitive concerns, directly observing a patient’s interactions, seeking input from family and friends or using short verbal or written tests all of which can be administered in the clinical setting. An evaluation of cognitive function is a required component of the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit, but findings from the report show that only 1 in 3 seniors are aware these visits should include this assessment.

Early detection of cognitive impairment offers numerous medical, social, emotional and planning benefits for both affected individuals and their families. If you are going in for your Medicare AWV or have concerns about your thinking or memory, initiate a conversation with your doctor about a brief cognitive assessment,” said Lisa Holman, Director of Programs for the Alabama Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers 10 Warning Signs to help individuals identify symptoms that warrant a discussion with your doctor. Visit alz.org to access a checklist to prepare for your visit and issues to discuss with your doctor, as well as to review the reasons to get checked and additional resources.

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