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November Is Observed as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

by | Nov 15, 2019 | Blog, Awareness Month | 0 comments

Regarded as one of the most common forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) ranks as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. November is designated as “National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month” in the United States – an observance aimed at making the general public more aware about the scale of the disease among the US population and to bring to light the potential care options for those people affected. Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, the campaign was established to honor the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s, through advocacy for a cure, awareness and education. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that causes the brain cells to degenerate. The condition impairs mental functioning and causes a continuous decline in memory, thinking, behavior and social skills disrupting a person’s ability to function independently. Forgetting recent events or conversations can be the early signs and symptoms of the disease. However, as the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will develop severe memory impairment and lose the ability to carry out everyday tasks.In most cases, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. The condition impacts women more severely than men. There is no specific treatment that completely cures Alzheimer’s disease or alters the disease process in the brain. Medications may temporarily improve symptoms or slow the rate of decline. Neurologists treating Alzheimer’s patients must use the correct diagnosis and procedural codes on the medical claims. For accurate clinical documentation of this brain disorder, physicians can benefit from the services of medical billing outsourcing companies.

According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s in the United States now and this number is expected to grow to 14 million by the end of 2060. The month-long campaign aims to generate awareness, highlight issues faced by Alzheimer’s patients and demonstrate how they can overcome these issues and live well with the condition. The symptoms to look for include memory loss (especially short-term), trouble making plans and solving problems, confusion over times or places, and misplacing objects. AD patients also experience mood and personality changes that can devolve into someone being confused, suspicious, or even depressed.

The exact causes of AD is not fully known, but 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 (neurons). Neurons, when damaged lose connections to each other and eventually die. The damage most often starts in the region of the brain that controls memory. The loss of neurons spreads to other regions of the brain and towards the late stage of the disease; the brain begins to shrink considerably. Top risk factors associated with the condition include – age, gender, Down syndrome, family history and genetics, poor sleep patterns, mild cognitive impairment, past head trauma, lifestyle patterns, cardiovascular health and other social and cognitive engagement. Changing lifestyle habits would help alter your 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. One of the key components of diagnostic assessment is self-reporting of symptoms as well as the information a close family member or friend reveals about symptoms and their direct impact on daily life. In addition, neurologists may recommend performing several other brain imaging tests like – Electroencephalogram (EEG), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Computerized tomography (CT), and Positron emission tomography (PET) to confirm whether the patient has this condition. These standard diagnosis and screening tests allow physicians to identify the exact symptoms so that they can initiate early treatment without making any further complications.

Medicare offers coverage for medical and mental health conditions. This may cover ongoing hospital care, doctor visits, physical exam and several other tests. Neurologists or other specialists offering treatment for AD have to report the correct diagnostic and procedural codes on the claims to ensure due coverage. Neurology medical billing and coding services offered by reputable and 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

Under category G30, coders must assign the following additional codes to signify –

    • F05 – Delirium, if applicable
    • F02.81 – Dementia with behavioral disturbance
    • F02.80 – Dementia without behavioral disturbance

The month of November was officially designated as “National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month” by the then US President Ronald Reagan on September 30, 1983. Coincidentally, 11 years later, Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The observance was planned to help generate awareness about the disease and as a call to action to get people involved in both the recognition of the condition, as well as the levels of care that might be required for someone else living with the disease. However, at the time of designation, there were fewer than 2 million people in the US with AD. Today, this number has reached about 5.8 million.

Healthcare organizations across the US will be hosting awide variety of events to spread awareness about screening and treatment for Alzheimer’s. Purple is the official color of the Alzheimer’s movement. People working in healthcare organizations around the world can wear purple to express their support and awareness.

As part of the 2019 month-long campaign, a wide range of events will be coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring “Memory Walks” all over the country. Thousands of people join together to raise awareness about the disease and to also raise money for research. People participating in this event need to wear blue if they have dementia and purple if they have lost a loved one to the disease. People can also make donations for new medications that slow down the effects of the disease. In addition, “National Memory Screening Program” is offered by the Alzheimer’s Association around the country. This free program provides confidential memory screenings to anyone who is interested. As part of the program, participants need to answer a list of questions to evaluate if they or someone else they know may potentially have Alzheimer’s disease. The test involves a series of questions to measure the language skills, thinking ability, and intellectual functions of the participants.

Join the Campaign against Alzheimer’s (AD) this November! Understand the need for identifying the symptoms early and undergoing diagnosis and screening tests.

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