Diagnosis key in Alzheimer's disease management

Published 05 Nov 2015

Alzheimer's disease or dementia is a disease that can have a major impact on the lives of individuals and their families. Regardless of whether it develops over a period of time or occurs rapidly, it is important that the Australian community understands this threat.

According to Alzheimer's Australia, close to 350,000 Australians currently live with the disease. In the coming decade, this number is expected to soar rapidly. In fact, one person is diagnosed with dementia every six minutes on average in Australia.

Additionally, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare stated that 10,933 people died of Alzheimer's disease or dementia in 2013.

Correct diagnoses critical

Due to the problems associated with Alzheimer's and since there is no cure at this point, correct diagnoses are imperative. This ensures the sufferer and their family can receive the support they need.

However, according to Alzheimer's Australia National President Professor Graeme Samuel, who spoke at the Austin Health Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service Annual Conference, there is room for further improvement.

Citing the 2013 Framingham Study, he noted that people who reach 65 without developing the disease have around a 20 per cent chance of dementia moving forward. The problem lies in the fact that just one in three Australians who do get Alzheimer's are diagnosed correctly after the age of 65.

Mr Samuel said a timely diagnosis is vital for those who suffer from dementia.

"As a consequence, many people with dementia and their families in Australia slip through the gaps and miss out on crucial opportunities for early intervention and the opportunity to fully understand their own condition," he said.

"This is a tragedy, and what's more it is largely avoidable."

How to improve dementia diagnosis?

As mentioned above, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, so medical professionals, families and the community need to take responsibility for spotting the signs early. Both Mr Samuel and Alzheimer's Australia believe that more information and education is required on this subject, and this starts with talking about the issue.

"Our nation needs a holistic plan to tackle dementia over the next decade and more, with a focus on timely diagnosis, as a fundamental element in improving quality of care, and supporting people to live well in the community for longer," Mr Samuel continued.

Critical illness insurance

Alzheimer's disease is listed as a critical illness on many insurance policies. As such, individuals diagnosed with this illness can make a claim to use part of their superannuation fund to pay their medical expenses or maintain their standard of living.

For more information on making a superannuation claim, contact our legal team today.

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