Better diagnosis vital for seniors with dementia

In terms of driving, this article is scary. I certainly can relate to it. I got ticked off when I read, What’s more, Ontario does not pay family doctors extra to do the lengthy assessments that determine if a senior is fit to drive.” It makes me wonder how many seniors are driving here in the US who probably shouldn’t be. It’s a tough call for all. Taking away someone’s driving privileges is a real blow to the senior!

Better diagnosis vital for seniors with dementia

By Pauline Tam, Ottawa Citizen January 27, 2009 OTTAWA —

Doctors’ failure to detect and to treat dementia in many seniors has thousands of them driving when they shouldn’t be, says Dr. William Dalziel, chief of the Regional Geriatric Program of Eastern Ontario. At a meeting Tuesday of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, Dalziel warned that in Ottawa alone, about 10,000 seniors have been diagnosed with dementia, but that number could reach 50,000 over the next two decades. Estimates suggest 100,000 elderly Ontarians with dementia — or about two per cent of the province’s seniors — are on the road even though they may be unfit to drive. In Ottawa, 2,500 elderly drivers have some form of dementia, he said. The problem persists because family doctors either are not trained to spot the warning signs, or are reluctant to report their patients to licensing authorities, said Dalziel. What’s more, Ontario does not pay family doctors extra to do the lengthy assessments that determine if a senior is fit to drive. “Just a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t mean someone can’t drive. You have to look at the disabilities they have related to that,” said Dalziel. “We need to equip physicians with the tools to decide if someone with dementia is safe or unsafe. And then we need to pay them properly to do that.” Often, seniors with dementia are diagnosed only after they reach the advanced stages, making it more difficult for them to be treated, he added. This also increases their chances of developing other illnesses or injuries that can land them in a hospital or nursing home, which can be a financial drain on families and on the health-care system, said Dalziel. He advocates the creation of more screening programs that would catch such warning signs as memory loss, changes in mood and behaviour and apathy. Treating risk factors such as high-blood pressure, depression and stroke also would slow the onset of dementia. “If you’re trying to get a middle-aged man to take his pills for hypertension, you don’t talk to him about a heart attack because he thinks he’s invincible,” said Dalziel. “Talk to him about dementia and you’re probably going to get a lot more (compliance).” Meantime, a new screening program is being launched in Eastern Ontario this month that will teach pharmacists how to spot seniors who may be at high risk of developing dementia. For example, it alerts pharmacists to watch for customers who purchase dosettes or pill organizers that remind people to take their medications daily. It then directs pharmacists to offer those customers a standardized memory test and to notify their family doctors should warning signs of dementia emerge. “There’s a bunch of red flags that health professionals, if they’re awake and alert and think of them, could easily utilize to recognize someone who is at greater risk,” said Dalziel, architect of the screening program. “The purchase of a dosette should come with memory screening because if someone is having trouble taking their medication, maybe they have memory troubles.” The program, expected to be tested at a half-dozen pharmacies across Eastern Ontario, is part of a broader regional effort to improve the detection of dementia. Another program being rolled out next month trains nurses working in community health centres and family health teams to assess elderly patients for signs of dementia, before being treated by a physician.

Well, now. Let’s go back to the Fast Food puzzle from last week — Burger, fries, small drink and cookie. The answer is $2.75.

  • If a burger and fries cost $3.50, and a small drink and cookie cost $2.25, then all four cost a total of $5.00. Take away the fries and small drink, which cost $2.25, and the remaining burger and cookie cost $2.75.

I made it a whole lot harder that it needed to be. I resorted to algebra and still didn’t get it correct. I came up with $2.85. Maybe I subtracted wrong. When I think that I minored in math in college, I couldn’t  believe that I couldn’t even do the simple algebra. Shameful. But I guess it’s a reminder that the brain is challenged these days. I think I need to get back to those logic puzzles again. They seem to help me the most—they actually make me feel smarter.

Congratulations to these great folks for solving it correctly! In order of posting are:

  1. Willa
  2. Laura
  3. Kat
  4. Lynn M.
  5. Pam
  6. Lynn
  7. Raquel
  8. Freda

I hope I didn’t forget anyone. Ladies, check for your email on how to receive your gift!!

Wasn’t able to get a post out yesterday. I got up early, but for some reason just couldn’t pull it together to concentrate on writing.

Some humor

“Good morning,” I said to a coworker in the parking lot. She mumbled something back and continued to the front door, distracted. As we walked, I couldn’t help but notice that she was muttering to herself: “It pays the bills, it pays the bills, it pays the bills…”

Blogging to do list:

This is the 28th day of the year, with 337 days remaining in 2009.

Fact of the Day: pancake

The oldest surviving pancake recipe in the English language dates from the 15th century. It describes a thin flat cake of batter, fried on both sides in a pan and usually served either flat or with several stacked. Blin (as in blini and blintze) is Russian for ‘pancake’ and blintz(e) is from Russian blinets ‘little pancake.’ Cake itself first meant ‘small flat bread roll baked on both sides by being turned – as in pancake.



5 Responses

  1. Wow!
    Thanks Dr. David. It is always fun to win something–almost anything. Today especially fun as it is my birthday.

    Like you I used Algebra to figure it. I am a math major after all.

    I will look forward to “prize” email and hope it did not go to SPAM before I read this posting.

    Best wishes,

    • A very Happy Birthday to you Willa! I hope all the rest provide you peace and comfort.


  2. David,
    Thank you so much for the very special gift. I needed a boost, and your mail came at just the right time.
    May God bless you today and always.

  3. I’ve just succeeded – at third attempt – to submit my rating/comment. The puzzles are a doddle by comparison!

    What I failed to realise was that I would get an email asking me to confirm my comment before it would register. Just thought I’d mention this in case anyone else was making the same mistake.

    • Good point. I didn’t know that either. I’ll need to let others know!

      Thanks…….. David

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