The Alzheimer’s Association has released new recommendations in Alzheimer’s and Dementia for detecting cognitive impairment during Medicare Annual Wellness visits. Primary care physicians have not received any comprehensive guidance on how to screen for cognitive diseases. There are a 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s Dementia but only half have been diagnosed. The guidelines will help primary care physicians detect dementia earlier, allow for earlier intervention and management that will improve these patients and their families’ lives. These patients often end up in nursing homes and dependent on total care being provided for them at great cost to the patients’ families and society.
The tools recommended include the Mini-Cog, the Memory Impairment Screen and the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition, which are tests that take only about 5 minutes to perform and are relatively unaffected by education, race or cultural bias. These test scores allow physicians to detect more than 80% of patients who later converted to cognitive impairment and dementia. By assessing and documenting cognitive status annually, physicians can more easily and effectively monitor gradual cognitive decline in a patient over time. The recommendations provide guidance for physicians as to when to refer for further testing and care. Delaying the onset of severe impairment by months or years saves not only money but allows families precious time together before the disease forces patients into nursing home care.
Britcher Leone & Roth has represented many families whose helpless loved ones have suffered abuse and injury in nursing homes as a result of their dementia. Nursing homes have a responsibility to provide routine care to prevent wandering, falling and pressure sores. When nursing homes fail to provide the care we expect and demand, Britcher Leone & Roth can help investigate and prosecute on behalf of abused residents.