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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog
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Thursday, May 31, 2012
The benefits of early dementia diagnosis
From The Guardian:
It has been described as a ticking time bomb, affecting more people than cancer or heart disease. But for many of the growing number of people in Britain who suffer from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, a diagnosis is still out of reach.
The Alzheimer's Society say that the the disease will cost the UK more than £23bn this year and it is one of the main causes of disability in later life, although more than a third of sufferers remain undiagnosed.
Early diagnosis is a key pillar in the Department of Health's national dementia strategy and a new 10-minute memory test, which has just become available for GPs, could help detect if someone is likely to go on to develop Alzheimer's or dementia.
CANTABmobile is an iPad-based test, developed by Cambridge Cognition (CC), which uses voice prompts and touchscreen technology to set a series of visual challenges that test for episodic and short-term memory loss, which can indicate later problems. It also differentiates between memory problems that may be caused by depression.
With a degenerative disease such as dementia, earlier diagnosis could give sufferers more time to prepare for later impairment and makes it less likely that a patient will end up in institutional care; saving more expensive costs in the long term. While it's still early days for research into whether lifestyle factors can alter the disease's path, an earlier diagnosis could give patients a better chance of tackling the disease.
Michael Hurt, dementia care programme manager at NHS Walsall, which is piloting the app, said it takes an average of three years for a diagnosis.
"Diagnosing better will mean higher costs in the short-term as people use more services, but they still use those services now, its just not in the dementia budget. We see people only once they're in a crisis. In the long run it's cheaper to avoid crisis and keep people at home.."
Link to The Guardian here.
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