HealthDay News — Doctors are not telling a majority of their patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s that they have the degenerative brain disease, a new report shows.
The research, conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association, involved patients whose Medicare records listed treatments that are specific to Alzheimer’s disease.
However, when the researchers asked the patients (or a caregiver as a proxy) if their doctor had informed them that they had the brain-robbing disease, only 45% said they had been told so by their doctor.
By comparison, more than 90% of people with the four most common cancers — breast, colorectal, lung and prostate — said they had been told about their diagnosis.
The researchers found that Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to be told of their diagnosis only after the disease has become more advanced, and their ability to participate in their care has diminished.
Doctors commonly cite fear of causing emotional distress as one of the main reasons they fail to disclose an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, according to Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services at the Alzheimer’s Association.
Other reasons given by doctors include uncertainty about their diagnosis, insufficient time to fully discuss treatment options and support services, a lack of support services, and the general stigma that surrounds Alzheimer’s, according to the report.
Alzheimer’s Association. 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Released March 24, 2015.