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When to reveal diagnosis of dementia

- Monday, March 08, 2010

Health Alert Update from John Hopkins

Many physicians fear that revealing a diagnosis of dementia would only further upset an already troubled patient, but a study from Washington University in St. Louis found quite the opposite. When it comes to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, knowing the truth as soon as possible appears to be the better approach, potentially improving the emotional wellbeing of both patients and their caregivers, the researchers report.

Medical advances have made it possible to diagnose Alzheimer's at very early stages, but a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that about half of all physicians were reluctant to inform patients of an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

The study followed 90 individuals and their caregivers as they came to the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University's School of Medicine for an evaluation. Sixty nine percent eventually got a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, but no significant changes in depression were noted and anxiety decreased substantially.

"The major finding is that both patients and their families feel relief, not increased anxiety, upon learning the diagnosis," says study co-author John C. Morris, M.D., Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. This was true regardless of the degree of impairment.  Read more here ...