Dementia Screening Cuts Health Costs

Today, Bloomberg Businessweek published a study documenting the decrease in the cost of care when dementia is diagnosed early. Cost savings is a great thing. But bigger than that is the increased quality of life and potential delay of disease progression for early and proper diagnosis. The earlier we diagnose a disease like Alzheimer’s, the more effective the treatments are at staving off the onset of additional symptoms or worsening of those existing.

Please see excerpts from the study below. You can take the first step towards screening your brain in the privacy of your own home with new medical screening like the ALZselftest. This is the only clinically-proven, early warning screen for Alzheimer’s available directly to the public. Which ever route is chosen please know that early and regular screening is our best defense against Alzheimer’s!

Patients diagnosed with dementia through screening ran up 13 percent less in health costs in the first year of treatment than before, according to a study suggesting wider detection could reduce U.S. medical expenses.

The one-year cost for 345 patients who were screened, found to have dementia and treated at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinics with specially trained nurses fell to $11,636 each on average, from $13,378 in the 12 months before diagnosis, said J. Riley McCarten, the lead researcher.

Patients with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia and the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., are becoming more numerous and cost three times as much to treat as elderly patients without the disease.

For patients whose dementia is properly diagnosed, health care may become more efficient, McCarten said in the interview. That’s because they can receive chronic care such as phone checkups with nurses, he said. Before diagnosis, patients may be “lurching from crisis to crisis,” undergoing tests and treatment for many possible maladies, after coming to the hospital repeatedly with vague complaints, he said.

An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. That figure will grow as the population aged 65 and older more than doubles to 89 million in 2050 because of longer life expectancy and the aging of baby boomers, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, an advocacy group based in Chicago.

“If you can detect and diagnose the disease earlier, then one can implement care sooner, so that the hope would be that the individual would have a slower progression of the disease and therefore extend the time before they would need institutionalized care,” said Molly V. Wagster, chief of the behavioral and systems neuroscience branch at the National Institute on Aging, in Bethesda, Maryland

“We would like to see screening become a vital sign, just like taking your weight or blood pressure,” McCarten said. “Right now the health-care system cares about every other organ system, but almost completely ignores the brain.”

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