Alzheimer’s Frustrates Physicians

by Nancy Wurtzel on February 24, 2015

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Alzheimer’s and other progressive diseases of the brain are devastating. They are also profoundly frustrating for those living with the disease, their family and caregivers.  The healthcare professionals who treat those patients are also frustrated.

Recently, I came across a New York Times essay by Dr. Danielle Ofri.  “The Silence of Doctors Around Alzheimer’s” focuses on the frustrations physicians feel because they have next to nothing to offer these patients.

Dr. Ofri writes, “But there’s nothing, really, that we can do about dementia. There aren’t any screening tests that can pick up the disease before symptoms appear. And even if there were, there aren’t any treatments that make a substantial difference.”

Physicians and other healthcare workers must watch as their patient’s cognitive and physical abilities ebb away bit by bit.  This has to be profoundly disheartening.  Ofri wrote, “For doctors, this is profoundly frustrating. No wonder dementia gets pushed onto the back burner. In the dishearteningly limited time of a medical visit, we’re forced to focus on the diseases we can treat.”

But Dr. Ofri doesn’t just stop there.  She also notes healthcare professionals are basically freaked out by the disease.

“For doctors, cognitive currency is our only currency. The idea of the mind vanishing is more petrifying than much of the bodily devastation we are privy to. The loss of intellectual capacity — not to mention personality and the ability to care for oneself — taps into an existential fear that we prefer to overlook.”

Take a look at the full article. It gives a perspective that you may not have thought of before: Even doctors dread Alzheimer’s disease.

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