My husband visited a geriatric neurologist every month or so and after a while, I felt that if the learned doctor was looking for early signs of dementia, she would do well to aim her questions at me or even at my daughters and not only speak to my husband. I drove him there, made sure he remembered to make the next appointment, and then was all but ignored.
I did not know whether my husband was suffering from Alzheimer’s or not and felt that until a medication became available that prevented cognitive decline, there did not seem to be any point in doing investigative tests. There are simple tests that can be done on the spot, like asking the patient to draw a clock and then fill in the time. Another test; to check the person’s ability to remember words. The doctor mentions them once, and then checks again about ten minutes later whether the patient can repeat them. But this does not prove that Alzheimer’s is the culprit.
Left to its own devices, the dementia industry will have everyone either at risk at an early stage or deep in the grips of dementia. Let’s face it. It it a huge potential money machine. The sad truth is that we all forget, and it becoms harder to lay down new memories as we get older. When or if this becoms pathological, especially when it is still mild, is a question that is highly dependent on cultural, social, economic and political factors. Except for feeding the burgeoning dementia research community and placating those who feel better if they have a diagnosis, there seems little advantage at this time in pursuing an early diagnosis of a disease that is still without decent therapy when the patient is only destined to get worse.
I wonder whether doctors remember that subjective cognitive decline used to be called and maybe should still be known as normal aging senescence? A diagnosis of dementia can create anxiety in our aging population … people who already have sufficient to worry about.