Legislation introduced to improve diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and provide support for individuals and families was applauded by The Alzheimer’s Association for signaling an understanding of how the absence of a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer's deprives individuals of treatments and services that could improve symptoms and help maintain their independence for as long as possible.
The Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act, (S. 738/H.R. 1386) was introduced April 6 by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Representatives Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey).
A key element of the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act is the documentation of dementia in medical records.
According to the Alzheimer Association's 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, as many as half of those meeting specific diagnostic criteria for dementia never received a diagnosis—and some evidence suggests it could be as high as 80%.
"Increasing evidence indicates that early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and timely intervention is important, both for people with the disease and their caregivers. The later in the disease process individuals receive a diagnosis, the more likely they are to miss opportunities to make key treatment, care, and planning decisions," said Robert Egge, the Alzheimer's Association's Vice President of Public Policy.