June is observed as “Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month” in the United States – the perfect time to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, the campaign offers a unique platform to hold a global conversation about the brain and share facts about Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias – that are a major public health issue. Regarded as the common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s is a general term for memory loss, thinking, behavior and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Reports from the Alzheimer’s Association show that worldwide about 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. It is estimated that 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease, including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65 years who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s). By the end of 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease. There is no specific treatment that completely cures AD or alters the disease process in the brain. However, certain medications may temporarily improve symptoms or slow the rate of decline. For accurate clinical documentation of this brain disorder, neurologists can utilize the services of medical billing and coding outsourcing companies.
The 2021 campaign is an effort to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. The condition impacts women more severely than men. This is an incurable disease that affects the nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. Eventually, those with the disease will lose their ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves. AD is not a normal part of aging. It’s a fact that everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s, the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.
The exact causes of AD aren’t fully known, but scientists believe that for most people it is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time. Problems with brain proteins disrupt the work of brain cells called neurons. Neurons, when damaged lose connections with each other and eventually die. In most cases, the damage occurs in those regions of the brain that control memory and this process begins years before experiencing the first symptoms.
Symptoms associated with AD begin slowly, but eventually grow severe enough to interfere with the daily tasks. Difficulty remembering newly learned information is one of the most common and early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Eventually, most people notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, as the condition progresses to an advanced stage, severe symptoms like – disorientation, mood and behavior changes, serious memory loss and behavior changes, deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking occurs. Several factors like – age, gender, family history and genetics, Down syndrome, mild cognitive impairment, poor sleep patterns and previous head trauma can increase the potential risk factors associated with the condition. Incorporating serious lifestyle changes or habits like – exercising regularly, eating fresh fruits, healthy oils and foods low in saturated fat, quitting smoking and following treatment guidelines to manage high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol – can help alter the risk level to some extent.
There is no specific test that completely confirms the presence of this brain syndrome. However, physicians may conduct a combination of cognitive, physical and neurologic tests/examinations to establish the presence of this condition. Diagnostic assessment of this condition begins with self-reporting of symptoms as well as other information shared by a close family member or friend that impact day-to-day activities. In addition, neurologists may recommend several other brain imaging tests like – Electroencephalogram (EEG), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Computerized tomography (CT), and Positron emission tomography (PET) to better characterize the factors causing dementia symptoms so that early treatment can be initiated. Neurologists and other specialists offering treatment for AD and related brain disorders have to report the correct diagnostic and procedural codes on the claims to ensure due coverage. Neurology medical billing and coding services provided by experienced providers focus on ensuring that the right ICD-10 codes are used for billing purposes. ICD-10 codes used for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) –
- G30 – Alzheimer’s disease
- G30.0 – Alzheimer’s disease with early onset
- G30.1 – Alzheimer’s disease with late onset
- G30.8 – Other Alzheimer’s disease
- G30.9 – Alzheimer’s disease, unspecified
Many people use the words Alzheimer’s and dementia vaguely. However, dementia is a broad term describing certain symptoms, while Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. Dementia with or without behavioral disturbances is coded separately from Alzheimer’s –
- F05 – Delirium, if applicable
- F02.80 – Dementia in other diseases classified elsewhere without behavioral disturbance
- F02.81 – Dementia in other diseases classified elsewhere with behavioral disturbance
As part of the campaign, the Alzheimer’s Association is urging the community to come together and help fight Alzheimer’s disease. There are many ways people can get involved and support the Alzheimer’s education and awareness campaign. Purple is the official color of the Alzheimer’s movement and people around the world can join the movement by wearing purple. People can share photos of themselves or with family, friends and co-workers or change their profile picture wearing purple via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. People can share their story about AD by posting a photo on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtags #ENDALZ or #EndAlzheimers. People can also participate in The Longest Day® on June 20 – a sunrise-to-sunset event conducted to honor patients with Alzheimer’s disease with strength, passion and endurance. Other activities include – making donations to continue accelerating critical research and providing 24/7 support to those affected by AD, and becoming passionate, inspired volunteers and making a difference in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
Join Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness campaign this June. Make Alzheimer’s a national priority and create widespread awareness of this devastating disease.