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Dementia, late diagnosis and poor communication between doctors and patients

November 21, 2018

More targeted interventions and effective and timely diagnostic tools: this is the request addressed to the European Parliament by the Alzheimer’s Federation in Italy. The occasion is provided by the presentation of the European Caregivers’ Report 2018 by Alzheimer Europe, an organization that brings together 40 European Alzheimer’s Associations and that has provided the highest institutions with a report on the critical issues that emerge in the diagnosis and treatment of dementia.


In Italy there are 1,241,000 dementia patients, mostly women (73.9%), between 75 and 84 years of age (49.1%). Almost half of them live at home with their family members; while there are still few who stay in care homes (12.1%). We discuss this with Dr. Lara Fratticci, a neurologist at Humanitas.

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Italy, a tail light

When it comes to Alzheimer’s and cognitive disorders of various kinds that can be enclosed in the definition of “dementia”, the Bel Paese stands out for lack of information sources. Only 33% of the respondents are informed via a specialist.


Italy also stands out for the lack of communication from doctors, while according to the Alzheimer’s Federation in Italy early diagnosis, together with the involvement of the patient in decisions that affect him and listening to his needs, are essential to combat social exclusion and stigma, to ensure dignity and improve the quality of life of the entire family involved.

Awaiting the diagnosis

Between one and two years: This is the time that on average passes before the patient is correctly diagnosed with the disease.


In addition to the difficulty of early diagnosis, there is the fact that 25% of patients in Europe are initially diagnosed with another medical condition, a percentage that rises for Italians to 31.9%. Once the correct diagnosis had been established, 53% of patients with mild dementia, 36% with moderate dementia and 4% with severe dementia were registered. More than half of the families in Italy are convinced that the diagnosis rate would have been better if it had been evaluated more quickly.


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