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Four Questions About Alzheimer’s You’re Likely to Ask, Answered

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Dr. Rhonda Randall

EVP and Chief Medical Officer of UHC National Markets, UnitedHealthcare

What is Alzheimer’s disease and how is it distinguished from other dementias? 

While the terms are often used interchangeably, ”dementia” is an umbrella term for many types of diseases associated with cognitive decline and memory loss. ”Alzheimer’s” references a specific diagnosis and is the most common form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone in the United States develops the disease every 65 seconds. 

How is Alzheimer’s diagnosed? 

Alzheimer’s disease is commonly diagnosed after conducting a memory screening and ruling out other reasons for cognitive decline. Having a historical record of a patient’s memory screenings can increase a doctor’s ability to accurately diagnose memory disorders earlier. 

Is there anything that can be done to help prevent or delay the potential onset of Alzheimer’s?

Staying physically and mentally active are key, regardless of age. That may mean taking a brisk walk, playing online brain games, or any other activity you enjoy that improves circulation and challenges your mind. Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels in-check. If you are a smoker, quitting is important. 

How can the barriers to Alzheimer’s diagnosis be addressed within the health care system?

Everyone with Medicare is eligible for an Annual Wellness Visit at no charge. As part of that appointment, ensure your physician is performing a memory screening. It just takes a few minutes, and even if you are confident you will ace the test, creating a benchmark record will be helpful. Your Medicare plan provider may offer additional support and benefits. For example, UnitedHealthcare’s Solutions for Caregivers program provides useful information to caregivers and their family members to help them through the caregiving journey. Find the resources at: UHCForCaregivers.com.

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