Early Alzheimer's Undertreatment

EMBED </>More Videos

Alzheimer's specialists around the world are noticing an alarming trend: patients with early-stage disease aren't being treated. (KFSN)

Alzheimer's specialists around the world are noticing an alarming trend: patients with early-stage disease aren't being treated. They're not taking provided medications and not getting early diagnosis; in fact, they could be making a bad situation worse down the road.

A lot of people don't even realize 87-year-old Bob Rosenfield has Alzheimer's. He was diagnosed seven years ago. His wife, Susan, makes sure he takes his medicine every day because they've made a big difference.

Susan confessed, "I don't think Bob would be able to make his breakfast or lunch or help with dinner or work at the computer or go to a movie and talk about it."

Bob told Ivanhoe, "I can't race like I used to, but I can do a lot!"

Gary Small, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist and director at UCLA Longevity Center, said patients often don't continue taking medications in early stages because they or their families don't see improvement.

"Many studies have shown that they help patients stay at a higher level of functioning longer. They don't cure the disease, but they do have an impact on people's lives," Dr. Small said.

He also said people avoid getting memory loss checked out for fear of an Alzheimer's diagnosis. The decision delays them from taking drugs to slow the symptoms down.

Dr. Small explained, "It's going to be easier to protect a healthy brain rather than trying to repair damage once it becomes extensive."

Susan said she sees others who didn't take medication in nursing homes, unable to remember their children's names. She's adamant that Bob take his meds and live a healthy, active lifestyle.

"I think if you don't take it, you pay a penalty. You're giving away quality of life," said Susan.

Both Dr. Small and the Rosenfields agree that medication alone isn't enough. It needs to be part of a comprehensive plan that includes eating a healthful diet, exercise, social interaction, and activities that stimulate the brain. Bob goes to a memory care class at UCLA to help keep him sharp.

Related Topics:
healthhealth watch
(Copyright ©2017 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.)