A push for family input to detect dementia earlier

LAURAN NEERGAARD AP Medical Writer Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Dementia can sneak up on families because its sufferers are pretty adept at covering lapses early on. It can take even longer to be noticed if spouses are there to compensate. And doctors can be fooled as well.

As the government develops the first National Alzheimer's Plan, specialists are pushing for some steps that might help early detection. They include training doctors in what's called dementia-capable primary care, more screenings for warning signs and regular checks of caregivers' own physical and mental health.

Government advisers say too often, families find that doctors ask only the person with brewing dementia about his or her own symptoms -- when relatives' input is crucial to know what's really going on.