January 4, 2012

CANADA: They're missing out on early Alzheimer’s diagnosis

TORONTO, Ontario / The Globe and Mail /Life / Health / January 4, 2012

By André Picard
Public health reporter

Jennifer Hall spends time with her husband Tom Hall , 61, as she does most afternoons, at Tyndall Nursing Home in Mississauga on Jan. 3, 2012. Peter Power/The Globe and Mail



When Tom Hall began locking his keys in the truck with maddening frequency and struggled to find the right words in conversation, the busy construction supervisor dismissed the problems as stress-related.
But when the symptoms persisted and he finally got around to seeing a neurologist, the news was grim: A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. 
“That day, on the spot, they took away his driver’s license and he had to quit his job. It was quite a shock,” said his wife, Jennifer Hall.
“I really wish we had known earlier,” she added. “We could have got our life in order.”
Mary Schulz, national education director of the Alzheimer Society, said that early diagnosis is helpful on several levels. Drugs can slow symptoms of the degenerative brain illness, although they don’t work for everyone. More importantly, people with Alzheimer’s and their families can plan for future care – financially, legally and practically.
Yet a new survey shows that many Canadians who experience symptoms like memory loss, disorientation and personality changes – typical warning signs of dementia – wait a long time before seeking medical help.
The survey, commissioned by the Alzheimer Society, involved 958 Canadians caring for a loved one with dementia.
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