The Alzheimer’s Association has come out with a strong recommendation to senior citizens; get a cognitive assessment test.
The best time, of course, is when a senior goes to the doctor for a physical check up. But the statistics on this are abysmal. Only 28% of older adults have ever been assessed for cognitive problems. And, a low 16% of seniors also undergo a routine cognitive protocol testing during their normally scheduled health physicals.
Alzheimer’s Association: Why Are Seniors Not Tested For Cognitive Abilities?
A good part of the problem is that seniors hardly ever mention they might be experiencing changes in their cognitive function. The survey found that although 51% of all older adults are aware of changes in their cognitive abilities, only 40% mentioned this to their doctor, when prompted. And only 15% volunteered their concerns on their own.
The reality is that almost all doctors will assess people for cognitive impairment only if they get feedback from the patient, the family,and/or their caregiver.
It goes without saying that early detection of cognitive decline offers numerous medical, social, emotional, financial and planning benefits. But detection needs to be told to family and/or caregivers to be effective. The mantra of “if you see something, say something” is true.
In fact, only 33 per cent of seniors are aware that an evaluation of cognitive function is a required component of the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit. This visit is covered by the federal insurance plan.
At this time, approximately 5.8 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia and 99.9 per cent are senior citizens over the age of 65. This statistic is from the Alzheimer’s Association.
In addition, 42 per cent of assisted living residents have the disease and the estimated cost of care is 290 billion dollars! This does not include unpaid caregiving which amounts to 195 billion and is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.