6.29.2004

We found a very interesting perspective on Alzheimer's in Yahoo! News that we wanted to tell you about. It seems signficant differences exist in the perception of memory loss depending on one's country of origin and cultural perspective. This reminds us of an experience we had last week as we were leaving Chicago and a meeting at the Alzheimer's Association, we were doing some work at the gate before our flight departed on our laptop. Since my battery was low I grabbed a seat on the floor and plugged in to one of those outlets that the crew at the airport use to power their industrial strength vacuums around the time that you are waiting for your redeye to depart, and if you are beginning to doze off, jolt you back to wakefulness.

A Sikh gentleman came up and asked if he could share my outlet - I said "of course," and he proceeded to open his very impressive titanium notebook. I noticed he was looking over at my open page while he worked on a Word document in Urdu. Soon he said, "What is that you are working on?" I told him I was making some changes to our web site, and I showed him our applications. "Ah, I see, that is very useful. You should make it in Urdu, that way the people would be more comfortable with it." I thanked him for his good wishes. Now to the article...

Britons differ from other Europeans and ignore early signs of Alzheimer's disease and put off seeing a doctor longer than their European neighbors, according to a poll on Wednesday.

Germans wait about 10 months from the start of symptoms such as memory problems or disorientation until they seek advice and are diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease.

It takes about 14 months in Italy, slightly longer in Spain and up to two years in France. But in Britain many people are not diagnosed until about 32 months after the first signs.

"Traditional British stoicism is a public health problem in terms of Alzheimer's disease," said Dr David Wilkinson, a psychiatrist at the Moorgreen Hospital in Southampton, southern England.


Britons seem to be more reluctant than their European neighbors to make a fuss about symptoms and to seek help.


"Older people feel their symptoms are not a legitimate medical need," said Wilkinson, who was commenting on the poll that was released at a medical meeting in Rome.


"We have got to get the message across that this is a common problem in the elderly -- but it is not part of normal aging."


An estimated 12 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's, which is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly.


There is no cure for a condition that robs people of their memory and mental ability but drugs have been approved to alleviate symptoms.


The survey, conducted by the global research agency Millward Brown, included 2,550 interviews with doctors, spouses, caregivers and patients.


In Britain, 72 percent of caregivers said fear about Alzheimer's was the main reason people delayed seeing their doctors.


Elizabeth Rimmer, executive director of Alzheimer's Disease International, encouraged elderly people who may be experiencing signs of the illness to seek help.


"Throughout the world dementia is surrounded by stigma and myth which prevents people from coming forward if they are concerned about the early symptoms, which are often ignored or just attributed to aging," Rimmer added in a statement.







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