Sunday, August 16, 2009

Diagnosed more often than ever ........why?

This brings up several issues. The diagnosis and awareness of the disorder, are more prominent than ever. Why is that? Old Doc Alzheimer a psychiatrist and neuropathologist back in Germany discovered it back around 1906. Why was it for the first half of the 20th century no one ever seemed to have heard of the disorder? We are easily living longer than ever in America, due to advancements in health care. Aging increases the risk of developing AD. Nuff said?Back when I was young in the 1970's I used to hear about someone being "senile" or having "hardening of the arteries of the brain" perhaps many of those people had AD. There really was no treatment. When my mother was diagnosed in 1979 there was still no treatment. It started to be diagnosed more and more, in the 1980's, as we were living longer life spans.
What else happened? In 1980 the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association incorporated. The NIH kicked a whole bunch of money into AD research (something like 13 million). President Reagan designated the first AD awareness week in 1982. I can't say exactly why and how all that happened then,, (ironic since Pres Reagan developed AD). So the drugs to treat AD emerged in the 1990's. (supply and demand?) Drug companies social responsibility? The problem is all of the meds developed in the last 20 years or so don't heal or cure the disease, they simply slow the progression rate in many victims. AND they work best when the disease is treated in the early stages. Early diagnosis became essential if you wanted the optimal treatment. With that comes a whole continuum of how aggressive a doctor and a family wants to treat AD, since currently it will kill you anyway. A new degree of apathy developed, now we could not ignore it of look the other way. Once we knew it was there, could we sort of ignore it as health care professionals since we can't really cure it yet? This is a common phenomenon that many families go through now.Personally speaking I would have accepted any treatment in 1979 to slow down the illness in my mother. Now of course if we are politically correct as many of us Americans pretend to be, we must passionately vilify drug companies, however the awareness has increased and let's face it, Direct to consumer Advertising by drug companies marketing their drug sure has increased the momentum for awareness raising. Incidentally my office is not as cool as the one on the Aricept commercial, but then again I'm no actor.........raising awareness is inherantly good.

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Talking about the book with the Lake Superior wind....... a calm day