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.
Alzheimer’s expert doctor Gary Small says 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,” said Dr. Gary Small, Geriatric Psychiatrist.
Small said people also avoid getting memory loss checked out for fear of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. And that delays them from taking drugs to slow the symptoms down.
“It’s going to be easier to protect a healthy brain rather than trying to repair damage once it becomes extensive,” explained Small.
Patients who are being proactive in taking their medicine are seeing a difference and so are their family members. When people meet 87-year-old Bob Rosenfield, they don’t realize he has Alzheimer’s and he was diagnosed seven years ago.
His wife, Susan, makes sure he takes his meds every day, because they’ve made a big difference. Susan said she sees others who didn’t take medication in nursing homes, unable to remember their children’s names. So 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.
Bob also goes to a memory care classes to help keep him sharp. Both Small and the Rosenfields agree that medication alone isn’t enough. It needs to be part of a comprehensive plan that includes a healthy diet, exercise, social interaction, and activities that stimulate the brain.