These findings by the CDC are troubling, but expected and indicative of the large, growing problem in our society. We know our population, particularly the large baby boomer population is aging, so unfortunately, we do expect more and more people in the coming years with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Perhaps even more troubling, the medical system is not prepared to handle this growing problem of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. By way of comparison, if you look at someone who is diagnosed with cancer, there are many specialists and other medical professionals trained to help that person. That is not really the case right now with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Most of these latter patients are treated by their primary care physicians and there is a lack of resources for PCPs to treat this large and growing number of people.
The CDC report suggests it would behoove the primary care community to get ready for the wave of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia that is coming and seek out guidance to care for patients. Earlier this year, we published dementia care recommendations, and at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, we presented clinical practice guidelines related to diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
The primary care community also may not be aware of the large number of clinical trials out there that seek to further the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. To improve this understanding, the Alzheimer’s Association created the free website TrialMatch, which PCPs can either share with their patients, or even enter their patient’s information themselves, and the website returns a customized list of trials in the area and how to get in touch with trial organizers.
There are resources for PCPs available to help with this coming wave. We know PCPs have so many pulls on their time, so we hope the primary care community will take advantage of these tools.
For more information:
Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/professionals/professional-providers/dementia_care_practice_recommendations. Dementia Care Practice Recommendations. Accessed Sept. 20, 2018.
Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/aaic/releases_2018/AAIC18-Sun-clinical-practice-guidelines.asp. Clinical Practice Guidelines. Accessed Sept. 20, 2018.
Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/trialmatch.org. TrialMatch. Accessed Sept. 20, 2018.
Keith Fargo, PhD
director of scientific programs & outreach, Alzheimer's Association
Disclosures: Fargo reports no relevant financial disclosures.