Many researchers are finding that doctors are quick to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease when dementia is present, even if Alzheimer’s isn’t necessarily the correct diagnosis. While Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent type of dementia, it isn’t the only kind, and a misdiagnosis can lead to a delay in the correct form of treatment, unfortunately. For those that have treatable dementia, this can cause an unneeded decline in quality of life, and in some cases, can cause irreversible damage.
One common type of dementia that is often confused with Alzheimer’s is called frontotemporal dementia. The treatment for the two of these, and some of the symptoms, are completely different. If you look at images of brains with the two different illnesses, the contrasts are very distinct. And when the wrong treatment is applied to a disease, that person will see his symptoms to get worse and worse. In the more severe cases, this can push someone into a nursing home without an absolute need for it. Senior care is going to be helpful regardless of the type of dementia that is present, but some types are less intrusive, and less costly, than others. It’s a waste in many cases to put someone in a nursing home when in-home care could do a better job at roughly half of the price.
Another negative effect that can occur with a misdiagnosis is that if a patient is participating in a study or some sort of clinical trial, the resulting data will not be accurate. In this way, the impact extends far beyond an individual and can be harmful to people suffering from dementia years from now. This point of view raises the stakes for a correct diagnosis immensely. Neither of these diseases has a cure right now, although frontotemporal dementia has symptoms that are considered to be more easily treated than Alzheimer’s disease. Still, a correct diagnosis helps doctors know what the right thing to do is, and improve the quality of life for the families impacted.
If one of your elderly loved ones is beginning to show signs of dementia, an accurate diagnosis is a must. Yes, there are about 5 million cases of Alzheimer’s in the U.S. each year, while there are only around 50,000 cases each year of frontotemporal dementia, but despite the odds tilting toward Alzheimer’s, not all instances of dementia are this. Also, there are many other types of dementia that exist, and this is more than enough reason for you to ensure that an expert opinion is obtained. Even if you trust your doctor completely, there’s no harm in getting a second opinion, either. This is a person that you love that is being examined, and making sure that the very best care is lined up for them is a part of showing them that you love them. If you don’t have the correct diagnosis, then it’s not possible to give them the best care and medication. An accurate diagnosis is possible, and advocating for your elderly parent or grandparent to ensure that they get one is a must.