A Johns Hopkins study suggests that dementia is an even greater problem than we realize. According to the researchers, a significant majority of seniors with dementia are undiagnosed — or are not aware that they have been diagnosed.

The greatest risk factor for a senior being unaware of their diagnosis? Going to the doctor alone. People with dementia who go to medical appointments without a relative or other companion who knows them are only half as likely to be diagnosed with dementia as those who are accompanied at doctor’s appointments. This is especially so when the dementia is less severe.

The takeaway: it is crucial to accompany an older person to health appointments, especially if are showing signs of cognitive decline. Having someone besides the patient who can give information about cognitive function is critical to the early diagnosis — and early intervention — of dementia.

Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.

Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

Because we know our clients so well, and we have a staff member accompany them to any outside specialists, we are alert to changes in our clients’ cognitive abilities, allowing for early detection and treatment of demntia.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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