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Tenet’s Palm Beach Health Network Hospitals Promote Brain Health During Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Jun 5, 2020

Recent report showing the number of commercially insured U.S. residents diagnosed with early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s rose by 200% from 2013 to 2017 underscores why cognitive testing and treatment should not be delayed due to pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for all, but it may be worse, and very confusing, for those who are experiencing signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia. In June, for Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, the hospitals that comprise the Palm Beach Health Network want to raise awareness and promote brain health and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of any kind of brain related disorder.

Underscoring the need for greater awareness of brain health and timely treatment is a recent report issued by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. It shows the number of commercially insured U.S. residents diagnosed with early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease rose by 200% from 2013 to 2017, and the average age of a person living with either condition was 49. The report, titled “Early-Onset Dementia and Alzheimer’s Rates Grow for Younger American Adults,” states that, in 2017, about 131,000 people between the ages of 30 and 64 were diagnosed with either early onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. That is an increase from 4.2 diagnoses for every 10,000 adults in 2013, to 12.6 diagnoses per 10,000 in 2017.

“While we have a large senior population in Palm Beach County, this study illustrates the need to be mindful of the signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s at any age. It is vitally important not to ignore even the earliest of indications that someone may be cognitively impaired, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when people are out of their regular routines due to social distancing,” said Maggie Gill, chief executive officer of the Palm Beach Health Network. “If you notice that a loved one’s cognitive behavior has changed over the course of the pandemic, it’s important to seek medical care immediately. Our community can rest assured that we have the protocols in place to safely evaluate patients, which include completely separate pathways for the care of COVID positive patients, and appropriate personal protective equipment.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly six million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, the number of people projected to have some form of Alzheimer’s is nearly 14 million adults 65 and older. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some individuals may be hesitant to leave their homes, and may not realize that their disease has progressed, which can cause a disruption in daily life. It is important to see a doctor and get evaluated as early as possible.

The Palm Beach Health Network hospitals are comprised of Delray Medical Center, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, St. Mary’s Medical Center and West Boca Medical Center. The St. Mary’s Medical Center Memory Disorder Center is one of 15 state-designated memory disorder centers in Florida offering a comprehensive evaluation of patients with memory loss. The center also focuses on recognizing memory problems, scheduling treatment, planning and follow-up care.

“Early diagnosis for any brain disease at any age is the key to finding the best course of treatment. That’s why it’s so important for families not to delay care, and to get screened as soon as they recognize symptoms,” said Dr. Arif Dalvi, medical director of the St. Mary’s Medical Center Memory Disorder Center. “Once a diagnosis is made, we can work with families to give them a course of action to treat them appropriately.”

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