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Dementia diagnosis brings relief, not depression
Date:3/3/2008

Carpenter thinks that the number of physicians not telling their patients has gone down since the 2004 study due to a greater public awareness about Alzheimer's.

"We're probably where we were at 10 or 15 years ago with cancer. Years ago when people had cancer their doctors didn't tell them. But we know now that that's improper, and that everybody needs to know if they have cancer. We're going to get there with Alzheimer's disease. [People] are not aware that when you tell the person they're not going to have some sort of catastrophic emotional reaction. The word will get out eventually," says Carpenter.

And there is good reason to spread the word. Earlier diagnoses allow for earlier intervention to delay the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia. Medications currently on the market can delay symptoms in a minor way, in some patients, and may delay institutionalization.

"There are some real practical and financial advantages of even these small incremental gains that we're getting from the medications now. If you can get an extra three to six months in your own house before you have to go to a nursing home, that's a big deal," says Carpenter.

And perhaps more importantly, providing a diagnosis as early as possible gives people a chance to prepare for what is coming."They know that things are going to get worse rather than better and they know that there's going to come a time when they're not going to be able to do the things they can do now, says Carpenter. "They can get ready for what's coming and we can connect them to support services. We can get their family ready ...so they'll be better prepared."


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Contact: Brian Carpenter
bcarpenter@wustl.edu
314-935-8212
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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