24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Alzheimers Disease and other Cognitive Disorders
Resources
Basic Information
Introduction & Causes of Cognitive DisordersDementiaAlzheimer's DiseaseOther Cognitive DisordersDementia Coping Skills & Behavior ManagementTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Conclusion and Resources
More InformationLatest News
Smog Tied to Raised Risk for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's DiseasePoor Brain Blood Flow Might Spur 'Tangles' of Alzheimer'sIs Apathy an Early Sign of Dementia?A-Fib Treatment Reduces Patients' Dementia RiskFall Risk Rises Even in Alzheimer's Early StagesPTSD May Be Tied to Greater Dementia RiskNew Research Links Another Gene to Alzheimer's RiskIs Rural Appalachia a Hotspot for Alzheimer's?Why Are Dementia Patients Getting Risky Psychiatric Drugs?Get Dizzy When Standing Up? It Could Be Risk Factor for DementiaCan Seniors Handle Results of Alzheimer's Risk Tests?More Education May Slow Start of Early-Onset Alzheimer'sUnder 50 and Overweight? Your Odds for Dementia Later May RiseBlood Test Heralds New Era in Alzheimer's Diagnosis9/11 First Responders Have Higher Odds for Alzheimer's: StudyCould the Flu Shot Lower Your Risk for Alzheimer's?Will Your Brain Stay Sharp Into Your 90s? Certain Factors Are KeyResearchers Zero in on Alzheimer's Disease Risk FactorsMany Americans With Dementia Live in Homes With GunsBrain's Iron Stores May Be Key to Alzheimer'sHormones May Explain Greater Prevalence of Alzheimer's in WomenMiddle-Age Obesity Linked to Higher Odds for DementiaCould Crohn's, Colitis Raise Dementia Risk?5 Healthy Steps to Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer'sCOVID-19 Brings New Challenges to Alzheimer's CaregivingAlzheimer's Gene Linked to Severe COVID-19 RiskHealthier Heart, Better Brain in Old AgeAHA News: Hearing Loss and the Connection to Alzheimer's Disease, DementiaBrain Plaques Signal Alzheimer's Even Before Other Symptoms Emerge: StudyCertain Gene Might Help Shield At-Risk People From Alzheimer'sHow to Connect With Nursing Home Patients in QuarantineHow to Ease Loved Ones With Alzheimer's Through the PandemicCaring for Dementia Patient During Pandemic? Try These Stress-Busting TipsDirty Air Might Raise Your Odds for DementiaRecovery From Mild Brain Trauma Takes Longer Than Expected: StudyCould Sleep Apnea Put You at Risk for Alzheimer's?Daily Aspirin Won't Stop Dementia, Study FindsStudy Ties Brain Inflammation to Several Types of DementiaHeart Drug Combos Might Also Lower Your Dementia Risk: StudyU.S. Primary Care Docs Unprepared for Surge in Alzheimer's CasesMaria Shriver Sounds the Alarm on Women and Alzheimer'sTraumatic Brain Injuries Raise Risk of Psychiatric Ills in SoldiersGrowing Up in U.S. 'Stroke Belt' Bad for the Brain Later in LifeTwo Experimental Drugs Disappoint With Inherited Alzheimer'sGene Variant Ups Dementia Risk in Parkinson's Patients: StudyGene Variation May Protect Against Alzheimer's: StudyWhen Dementia Harms Speech, Native Language MattersEven 1 Night's Bad Sleep Can Raise Levels of a Brain 'Marker' for Alzheimer'sAHA News: Worried About Dementia? Check This Blood Pressure NumberStudy Might Point Alzheimer's Research in Whole New Direction
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

U.S. Primary Care Docs Unprepared for Surge in Alzheimer's Cases

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Mar 11th 2020

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, March 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Many U.S. primary care doctors worry they aren't ready to care for the growing ranks of Americans with Alzheimer's disease, a new report suggests.

In a Alzheimer's Association survey, half of primary care doctors said the U.S. medical profession is unprepared for the coming surge in Alzheimer's cases.

Right now, it's estimated that more than 5 million Americans age 65 and older have the disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association. That figure is expected to almost triple by 2050.

And the doctors who are worried about the future have good reason, according to Dr. Sharon Brangman, inaugural chair of geriatrics at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

In fact, she said, the future is already here -- with too few doctors able to care for dementia patients and direct their families to resources for additional help.

"It's not enough to just prescribe medication," Brangman said. "The day-to-day care of people with dementia is really hard. And a lot of doctors aren't comfortable with that."

Brangman, a past president of the American Geriatrics Society, was not involved in the new report.

The survey findings are part of the Alzheimer's Association's latest Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, released March 11. The annual publication gives an overview of the state of the disease in the United States.

The association decided to include a survey this time around to get physicians' perspective, according to chief program officer Joanne Pike.

"Primary care physicians are on the front lines for treating any medical condition, not dementia," Pike said. But their role in dementia care, she added, will become increasingly critical as the number of Americans with the brain disease swells to possibly 15 million over the next 30 years.

Based on the survey, primary care doctors are already feeling the pressure. "The majority said they are getting questions about dementia at least every few days," Pike said. "And their patients expect them to be able to answer."

Yet 27% of doctors said they are "never" or only "sometimes" able to do that.

Doctors do want to stay up-to-date and give patients the information they need, the survey found. But education and training opportunities can be hard to come by: Fewer than half of the doctors surveyed said they'd pursued continuing education on dementia care -- often citing too few options and a lack of time.

Younger doctors were more likely than their older peers to have had some education and training in dementia care during medical school and residency. Still, two-thirds of doctors who'd had such education described it as "too little."

Primary care doctors did commonly refer dementia patients to specialists, such as neurologists and geriatricians. But, the report shows, the United States has far too few specialists to manage the demand.

Right now, for example, there are just over 5,200 geriatricians nationwide. That number would have to balloon to over 46,000 by 2050, just to meet the needs of 30% of Americans age 65 and up.

Primary care doctors -- as well as other providers such as nurses, aides and social workers -- will necessarily play an ever-increasing role in dementia care, according to Pike and Brangman.

"Medical school curriculums need to devote more time to dementia, and aging in general," Brangman said.

As for doctors already in practice, education needs to be more accessible, Pike said. The Alzheimer's Association is looking at innovative ways, she noted, including "tele-mentoring" programs that would allow doctors to learn remotely from dementia experts.

But dementia care goes beyond technical knowledge. Family caregivers are ultimately on the front lines, Brangman pointed out, and they need help managing day-to-day challenges.

Social workers are a vital part of that, she said. But that kind of support is not available in all health care systems.

Still, other local resources exist, and doctors should at least be able to direct families to them, Brangman said. Those include caregiver support groups, regional agencies on aging, or local chapters of the Alzheimer's Association or American Geriatrics Society.

Pike said the Alzheimer's Association also has a 24-hour helpline and online resources for family caregivers.

"People with dementia need constant supervision," Brangman said. And their primary caregiver -- typically an elderly spouse -- may have their own health issues to manage, along with everything else.

"We shouldn't make it difficult for them to find help," Brangman said.

More information

The Alzheimer's Association offers resources for family caregivers.