Study finds majority of people with dementia symptoms haven’t been screened

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When you gather with older loved ones on Thanksgiving, you might notice a decline in their memory or thinking.

A new study found more than half of older Americans with signs of dementia have not seen a doctor about it.

Dave Lyon struggles with memory. Alzheimer's Disease is taking it away. The diagnosis came a decade ago after testing.
Carol Lyon is glad she took her husband to a doctor to get the diagnosis.

"You should not be afraid," she said.

Yet a new study published in the journal Neurology found 55 percent of older Americans with signs of dementia haven't seen a doctor about it. That's nearly two million people.

The study found having children who lived close by didn't make a difference in whether or not people were evaluated by a doctor. But having a spouse meant people were twice as likely to get screened.

"They recognize there's a change," said Dr. Dana Winegarner, a neurologist with Rowe Neurology Institute.

Dr. Winegarner there are many good reasons to get checked out.

"So that available treatments can be utilized and people can be enrolled in clinical trials that may find even better
treatments," he said.

He adds that the diagnosis can help families prepare for financial, legal and social challenges. They can get education and support from the Alzheimer's Association and others.

"It's just good to know there's somebody you can count on," said Carol Lyon.

She says Dr. Winegarner has been that for her. He says over the holidays, if you notice a decline in a loved one's memory or thinking, ask the loved one about it in a respectful way and help the person get evaluated by a doctor.