Alzheimer's Disease: Why See a Specialist?
Alzheimer's disease, a type of dementia, affects everyone differently. It can impact memory, thinking, and behavior, and can greatly interfere with the quality of life of patients and caregivers. The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are older than age 65, but it’s not a normal part of aging. It can worsen over time, which is why it’s important to recognize symptoms early and seek out medical care. Although today’s treatments can’t prevent Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can slow it down and improve quality of life.
Your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your loved one’s Alzheimer's disease successfully. That’s where a specialist comes in: a Alzheimer's disease specialist, called a neurologist, has the right skills and insight to treat Alzheimer's disease. Here’s why:
1. A neurologist completes extensive training in Alzheimer's disease and is an expert in Alzheimer's disease care.
A neurologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of abnormalities in the brain and central nervous system. These conditions might range from migraine to traumatic brain injury to Alzheimer’s disease and more, and neurologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A neurologist will have expertise in treating Alzheimer's disease and other conditions related to their field.
All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But neurologists receive considerable training beyond that. Neurologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced neurologists and focus on patients with Alzheimer's disease and other problems affecting the brain. At the end of this period, they can take an exam to become board-certified neurologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in neurology and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert.
2. A neurologist never stops learning about Alzheimer's disease.
To maintain their board certifications, neurologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They’re required to complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified neurologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's disease, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans. This is especially important because experts are learning more about Alzheimer’s disease every day, and researchers all over the world are making remarkable progress leading to new treatments.
3. A neurologist has extensive experience in treating Alzheimer's disease.
Neurologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with Alzheimer's disease, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because of this experience, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, consider new therapies, have a deeper understanding of the causes of Alzheimer's disease, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.
4. A neurologist is a team player.
Neurologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with Alzheimer's disease and can connect patients with geriatricians, geriatric psychiatrists, geropsychologists, neuropsychologists, and other experts in Alzheimer's disease management. Working with a team can help caregivers address all aspects of the condition and ensure the best possible care.
5. It's easy to find the right neurologist for you.
There are thousands of neurologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for your loved one? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best neurologist to help you manage Alzheimer's disease successfully.