More than half a million Americans will develop Alzheimer’s disease this year, but as many as half will never be told their diagnosis, according to a new report.
Doctors are reluctant to give the bad news, are afraid of the reaction, or fear they won’t be believed, the Alzheimer’s Association says. But Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers say they want to know.“I think to have a diagnosis gives you at least a place to start,” says Mary Downs of Reston, Virginia. Downs should know — she cares for her mother-in-law Helen, who at 83 has a diagnosis, and for her own mother, Lois, who has some symptoms but has not been diagnosed.
“There are some things with this disease we can control,” Downs told NBC News. “We can have a plan for helping the person with a disease. When Helen got the diagnosis, we had a chance as a family to say, ‘We know she has this.’ It kind of gave us the chance to sit down and ask, ‘What do the next years with her look like?'”
In its annual report on Alzheimer’s dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association finds that 5.3 million Americans have the disease, including 200,000 people under the age of 65. “Barring the development of medical breakthroughs, the number will rise to 13.8 million by 2050,” the association says in its annual report. Two-thirds of them are women. Read Full Story on NBC News