- Psychological Issues
(ARA) – As the number of diagnosed cases continues to rise, many Americans still believe Alzheimer’s disease is a consequence of aging that has no remedy.
With as many as 4 million Americans currently afflicted, and the number expected to triple, options for Alzheimer’s detection and treatment are increasingly important to an aging population. Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it can be reliably identified and treated. In fact, there are medical treatments available that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s if detected in its early stages.
The disease damages the brain cells responsible for intellectual functioning, including memory, intelligence, judgment and speech. People with Alzheimer’s experience a decline in cognitive abilities, such as thinking and understanding, and changes in behavior.
As individuals age and their loved ones begin to notice memory and behavior changes, many aren’t sure what to do. “When memory lapses become more severe or so frequent that they begin to interfere with daily life, deciding when to visit a doctor about memory loss isn’t always easy,” says Dean Knudson, M.D. and geriatric psychiatrist.
People experiencing cognitive degeneration have an especially hard time facing their symptoms. Denial is common, even among family members who are seeing the decline. It’s not uncommon for the symptoms to be denied or to go unrecognized until the problem becomes unavoidable.
The disease affects different people at different rates, and in different ways. Because Alzheimer’s responds to medications best in its early stages, the most critical issue is to detect the disease early and to diagnose it correctly.
Telephone Screening Provides Convenient, Simple Initial Assessment
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s, a new telephone screening provides a reliable way to assess cognitive level.
The Minnesota Cognitive Acuity Screen (MCAS) is a telephone interview conducted by a registered nurse who is trained to screen for cognitive problems. Designed and validated by a team of scientists during a two-year period, the MCAS has been proven to identify mild to moderate dementia more than 98 percent of the time. Based on its success in the long-term care insurance industry, Nation’s CareLink is now making the MCAS available to consumers.
“The MCAS is an excellent first course of action when loved ones experience memory problems,” says Knudson. Knudson helped develop the screening tool to alleviate or identify concerns, noting that many general care physicians had neither the time nor the training to properly screen patients for dementia or Alzheimer’s in the doctor’s office. “Early detection means greater opportunity to assess medication, long-term care and other options.”
MCAS questions relate to a person’s basic orientation, problem solving and reasoning skills. The interview takes only 15 minutes to complete and is administered over the phone. Interviewees can take the test in the privacy and comfort of their own home.
The MCAS consists of nine sub-categories:
The depth of the MCAS is particularly important, since nearly 50 percent of cognitive impairments cannot be detected by memory testing alone.
“The MCAS provides a much needed bridge between expensive medical evaluations and the so-called ‘watchful waiting’ option,” adds Knudson. With the cost of a telephone screening at $95, MCAS offers an affordable and convenient alternative to expensive neurological testing.
Results are mailed within 24 hours after completion of the MCAS. The test provides objective information to act upon, allowing family members to consider medical, legal and financial care decisions. Participants are advised to contact their physician to discuss results.
Ann Ray, 75, of Peoria, Ill. had a family history of Alzheimer’s and recent bouts of forgetfulness. Ann wanted to know whether she had the disease, and she hadn’t talked to her physician in awhile. For her, the MCAS quickly and inexpensively provided peace of mind and the assurance of knowing she is simply aging normally.
Cognitive changes can often be subtle and hard to detect. The Alzheimer’s Association has identified the following possible warning signs and symptoms:
“By seeking early diagnosis and treatment, you put yourself in a better position to meet the challenges – and find solutions – for Alzheimer’s and dementia,” adds Knudson. “There is no reason to delay.”
Ann Ray was “tickled” to learn that her results showed she was unimpaired. “I was obsessing about Alzheimer’s. Now I feel a lot more confident. I have nothing to worry about.”
For more information about the Minnesota Cognitive Acuity Screen, contact the MCAS Center at (866) 884-6100 or visit www.cognitivescreening.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content