Mainstream medical experts continue to push “routine” cancer screenings onto older Americans. Yet, they don’t take the same aggressive approach when it comes to routine screenings for dementia.
In fact, I recently came across several stories in the mainstream press that said it’s “unclear” whether older adults should be screened at all for cognitive decline!
With that kind of mindset, it’s really no wonder that patients with dementia or “probable” dementia are undiagnosed up to 76 percent of the time in primary care settings. Which means they’re also missing out on much-needed natural treatments that could slow, or even reverse, their cognitive decline.
So, in a moment, I’ll tell you about some steps you can take with your primary care physician to make sure you’re not one of those sad statistics. And I’ll tell you all about an accurate, simple memory test you can even conduct by yourself at home!
But first, let’s back up to discuss a recent investigation into cognitive screening by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)…
Some good and bad news about dementia screening
The USPSTF recently took a deep dive into the evidence about routine screenings for dementia.
(I was very interested in what they would find—since the organization is supposed to look at population-wide public health perspectives, without a crony, corporatist cabal pushing it, as the cancer industry does for cancer screenings.)
Unfortunately, the USPSTF found a startling lack of research into the topic. However, they did turn up 260 studies that specifically addressed how well screening tests can detect cognitive impairment in primary care settings. These studies also assessed the effectiveness of mainstream drug treatments to manage cognitive decline.
After also looking at a roundup of studies myself, I came away with two major conclusions…
First—we DO have a highly accurate, short, simple, and low-cost test for dementia. In fact, according to 15 studies the USPSTF looked at, the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) accurately detects 89 percent of early dementia cases. And in primary care practices that do routinely screen for dementia, the MMSE is the most commonly used screening test.
My second conclusion relates to the evidence the USPSTF turned up about drugs used to treat dementia. As you probably know, there are a number of prescription drug treatments available for cognitive decline and dementia. However, as the USPSTF stated, the drugs’ “benefits appear quite small and of uncertain clinical importance.”
But not only do these drugs provide very little (or no) benefit, they also cause great harm. In fact, as the USPSTF admits, these drugs can cause fainting, falls, and abnormal heartbeat. In some cases, patients who get these medications also even require surgical placement of pacemaker devices.
In other words, the drugs often prescribed to treat cognitive decline simply don’t work…and are often quite harmful.
So, the mainstream press news stories I mentioned at the beginning of this Dispatch should have read: Screenings for dementia are highly accurate—but if you’re diagnosed, don’t take a useless, even harmful drug to treat it.
Thankfully, you do have some better options to assess and protect your cognition naturally…
Early, regular screening for dementia does have value
Once you turn 65 years old, the Medicare Part B “Annual Wellness Visit” requires your physician to perform an objective assessment of cognitive function. In addition to the MMSE I mentioned earlier, you can also ask your doctor to perform this simple smell test. (You can also perform it on yourself or a loved one at home!)
Then, if your primary care doctor detects something, they can refer you to a specialist under Medicare. (They should also consult with you about critical safety issues. For example, can you safely operate a motor vehicle? Can you reside at home independently?)
Your physician can also screen you for (and, hopefully, help you address) other factors that can cause cognitive impairment—such as depression, sleep disorders, and polypharmacy (use of too many drugs all together).
If you have your own private health insurance for long term care (LTC), you probably underwent one of these cognitive screenings already. (I recently told you about a new type of LTC, which you typically need to arrange for yourself. Although, if you’re a federal employee, we the taxpayers pay for it, whether or not you can afford to get it for yourself.)
For me, here’s the bottom line about why early detection of dementia is critical…
For one, early detection allows patients to participate directly in their care…as well as participate in shared decision-making about healthcare choices and preferences.
Second, early detection also allows patients to DO something about their condition before it’s too late. In fact, as I’ve reported regularly over the last several years, researchers with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), found that following a dozen drug-free steps resulted in significant, sustained improvements in memory in nine out of 10 people with dementia.
This research is probably the single biggest clinical breakthrough on nutrition and dementia. And it inspired me to develop my very own online learning protocol about the condition.
You can learn more about my drug-free, cutting-edge plan to prevent, treat, or even reverse dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in my Complete Alzheimer’s Prevention and Repair Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive learning tool, or to enroll today, simply click here now!
“Unclear whether older adults should be screened for cognitive impairment.” Medscape, 2/26/20. (medscape.com/viewarticle/925726)
“Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: Recommendation Statement.” Am Fam Physician. 2015 Mar 15;91(6).