Why is Alzheimer’s Going Undetected?

As the number of Americans aged 65 and older expands—from 56 million in 2020 to 95 million in 2060—the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias will also grow. Being vigilant about neural health as we age is ever-important, but it can be extremely difficult to distinguish symptoms of pre-Alzheimer’s from symptoms of normal aging.

new report from the Alzheimer’s Association says that more than 4 in 5 Americans are unaware of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to Alzheimer’s that causes subtle changes in a person’s memory and thinking. Between 12 and 18 percent of people aged 60 and older are living with MCI, and 10 to 15 percent of those with MCI develop a form of dementia each year. Yet, when the Alzheimer’s Association described MCI to 2,434 survey participants, more than half responded that it sounded like “normal aging.” Doctors are not immune to this confusion either—while almost all responded in a second survey that it’s important to diagnose MCI, over one-third of the 801 primary care physicians asked said they are not fully comfortable making that diagnosis.

Excerpted from Popular Science

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