Caregiver Study: Dementia Brings Losses, Gains

Article excerpt

Worries about the stigma of Alzheimer's disease leads to denial and potentially dangerous delay in diagnosis: an average of 6 years when caregivers fear dementia has developed, and almost 3.5 years when the person experiencing the onset of cognitive impairment is concerned about being stigmatized. That is one conclusion of a new Harris Poll conducted for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA), based in New York City.

"While facing Alzheimer's disease is never easy, getting a diagnosis is an essential step to managing and treating the disease," said AFA chief executive officer Eric J. Hall in a media release. "Living with this in silence can isolate people with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers, leaving them without critical support, resources and proper treatment," he said.

Caregivers reported that the greatest obstacles to getting earlier diagnosis are lack of knowledge about dementia and its symptoms (40%), the reluctance of patients to visit their doctors (38%) and caregivers' reluctance to face the possibility that something could be wrong with their patients (19%).

Three-fourths of survey participants indicated that even though they believed the affected family member had Alzheimer's, another person became the first one to raise this possibility directly. Other caregivers or acquaintances were the first to broach the subject of Alzheimer's for 52% of respondents, and a physician voiced the possibility in 34% of cases.

LIFE-CHANGING EVENT

Nearly all (97%) of the 539 caregivers (ages 18 and older) included in the online survey concurred that Alzheimer's is a life-changing event for the family of the patient, and 94% wish more treatment options were available. …