Glen F. Biddulph, MD
Dr. Glen F. Biddulph, an internist with Tanner Clinic, has become an authority on the many health issues related to gerontology.
His practice at the Layton clinic includes all ages of adults, but he admits to a fondness for the older set. “I become involved with my more senior patients and I’m like one of their family,” he said.
The Layton native and resident began his career life as a chemical engineer with an international gold mining firm. But he was drawn to medicine and was accepted at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno, where he earned his MD.
He completed his residency in internal medicine at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, where he served as chief medical resident.
Dr. Biddulph practiced for the first 10 years of his medical career at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, later joining Tanner Clinic in 2010.
Dr. Biddulph is board certified in internal medicine. He’s been a consistent partner in medical research, including with Tanner Clinic’s Clinical Research Department, which conducts ongoing trials.
Dr. Biddulph is married and the father of five children and, at the moment, two grandchildren. He enjoys bicycling, gardening and camping; he’s also finding an affinity for traveling. He’s active in his neighborhood as a volunteer handyman.
What patients are saying about Dr. Biddulph
“Dr. Biddulph came in early to squeeze our son into his schedule for a follow-up visit after starting a new medication. He has always been so compassionate and concerned for his patients’ overall well-being. He covered much more than just the medical issues and helped our son learn with to deal with and cope with life as a whole. He is a ‘rock star doctor’.” — Tiffany, in-office comment card, Feb. 20, 2015
“Always very helpful! Especially because I need help with a wheelchair. Dr. Biddulph and his staff are awesome. Best care anywhere!” — Karen of North Ogden, in-office comment card, Feb. 13, 2015
“We are very impressed with the people and service here. We were nervous about moving from Tennessee to Utah and changing doctors. But we are extremely happy with Dr. Biddulph, who is obviously very brilliant and has terrific people skills. We are so pleased and no longer worried.” — Tannerclinic.com in-office comment card, July 14, 2014
“Dr. Biddulph was wonderful. He answered all my questions. Very professional and kind. I just love coming to him and Tanner Clinic.” — Diane via a Tannerclinic.com in-office comment card, June 13, 2014
“Ijust had my first appointment with Dr. Biddulph and he is great — I totally recommend! Another great thing about Tanner is that doctors communicate with you by emails. I used to go to a doctor that was in office just Monday and Wednesday, and I would leave a message and it would be always hard to get answers or to return my phone call. Sometimes you just have a simple question. Dr. Biddulph checks his emails every hour or so and was able to reply quickly to my email. I like (Tanner Clinic) and I will keep coming back!” — Google+, Jan. 15, 2014
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Alzheimers Must Be Diagnosed and Treated as Early as Possible
All of us know we’ll lose our loved ones to death. But when that individual has dementia, we have lost them twice.
As Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia gradually destroy brain cells, the memories, quirkiness and tenderness of that once vibrant and loving individual drain away — often long before death.
To slow that loss, Dr. Glen Biddulph, a gerontologist and internal medicine specialist, advises: Fight back. Early and aggressively.
His mission is to keep our loved ones with us — in body and in mind. “If there’s any suspicion, don’t wait,” says the Tanner Clinic physician. ”You need to be evaluated early.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, followed by multi infarct dementia, a result of mini strokes that also kill brain cells.
Family members first to notice changes
Among the first to notice dementia’s changes in personality are family members. And it’s often short-term memory loss, a primary characteristic of the disease, that triggers the concern. Your mom or dad may seem unable to focus on their checkbook, or they get lost in the grocery store.
Dr. Biddulph has found that pharmaceutical treatments can offer a dramatic improvement in the patient’s day-to-day tasks, as well as in the long term by slowing the decline as long as possible.
The medications available today are what Dr. Biddulph considers “modern-day miracles.” He cared for patients before the first medication, donepezil, was introduced in 1996, he said. “And I remember watching those patients decline at a much faster rate.”
Aricept (donepezil) is the most widely prescribed medication, followed by Namenda and, for people who do not tolerate those well, the Exelon patch. Dr. Biddulph said that when the medications are used properly, he’s seen great improvements in the basic activities of daily life, such as getting dressed.
Decline can be slowed
The physician especially stresses the importance of beginning treatment at the earliest signs. “In my experience,” he said, “if you wait until the disease progresses, you will get improvements, but the outcome is much different if you do it earlier.”
Treatment won’t cure the disease — to this date, nothing will. But it “slows the progression in most patients,” said Dr. Biddulph.
There are times, he adds, when a specific medication fails. “Sometimes we try something that doesn’t work, so we keep trying to do what’s best,” he said.
He often recommends medication even for patients who live in nursing homes or Alzheimer’s units. “Even though the patient may not recognize family members or care for themselves,” he said, “it still helps control undesirable behaviors.”
Dementia not simple memory loss
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia generally show up between ages 60 and 75 — the youngest such patient Dr. Biddulph treated was 55.
Dementia differs from the normal memory loss that comes with advancing years — with dementia, a decline is inevitable. But how fast the disease progresses varies among patients. “I have patients who started treatment 10 years ago and they don’t seem to be a whole lot worse,” Dr. Biddulph said.
With the majority of his patients, the decline may not be noticeable month to month, but it is year to year. “That’s why we continue to do assessments when they come in for regular follow-ups,” he said.
Patients’ needs are individual
Eventually, the patient’s unbalance will progress to a point where the family needs to step in. Dr. Biddulph, who is also a certified hospice worker, continues to work with the family, as well as the patient.
“The overwhelming thing I’ve found,” he said, “is that what’s right for one family may not be right for another. It’s really individual for what patients needs.”
There are many times, in fact, that Dr. Biddulph gathers the entire family “because there may be disagreements among children and even spouses on what path to take.” His role is not as a referee; instead, he says, “I’ll explain what options are available.”
Most dementia sufferers are living independently when the disease is diagnosed. But as the murkiness advances, he said, “we have definite steps that we put in place once someone is unsafe or because caregivers can’t continue to care for them. We have a lot of other options that we try to provide.”
Caretakers live with stress
Caring for dementia sufferers can exhaust caregivers. Dr. Biddulph also watches over the spouses who “make tremendous sacrifices to be able to care for a loved one.” He adds, “I’ve seen children do the same thing, but primarily it’s the spouse who is the caregiver, and they take on a tremendous amount of responsibility.”
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s, is what Dr. Biddulph calls a “clinical diagnosis.” There are no blood or other tests. For individuals where the diagnosis is questionable, Dr. Biddulph proposes a more sophisticated test that is interpreted by to a psychologist “to fish out those who are depressed or who have other conditions.”
Bayer With It
BAYER WITH IT — Does baby aspirin slow dementia’s progress? The newest study to say so was released in November 2013. The clinical trial of 15,000 Australians over 70 concluded that aspirin may be effective in delaying the onset of dementia.
Sometimes, Health Care Isn't About Recovering, Doctor Learns
A life-changing insight came to Glen Biddulph when, as a young physician, he hovered and worried over the illnesses and death of his parents at young ages — his mom died at age 60 of breast cancer, his dad at 67 from an aggressive lymphoma.
Dr. Biddulph had learned, and internalized, that as a physician his whole purpose was to save and to cure.
But with the caretaking of his parents, he began to look at the practice of medicine with a new mindset.
After his mother’s diagnosis, she chose to forgo any treatment — she didn’t want surgery, chemo or radiation. Still, “she had an incredibly difficult time,” he said. “My role as a treater and a curer was no longer important for her. It was important that she be kept comfortable, that she kept her dignity and that she was allowed to die.”
That’s why today he chooses to work as a certified hospice worker, continuing to be involved with his patients “until the very end of their lives.”
Ten years after the death of his parents, “I now understand that instead of feeling like I had failed as a physician, I can say it’s OK for certain people to choose,” said Dr. Biddulph. “They have the right to choose not to seek treatment. And if they choose that, then I have a responsibility to provide them the same high quality of care and prevent suffering, pain and anxiety,” he said.
“For certain people, I don’t have to be a miraculously saving doctor. I can be someone who provides comfort — and I’m OK with that.”
— Tanner Clinic staff
In the Media
Dr. Biddulph discusses why men are less likely to seek routine medical care in “Despite Data, Men Still Least Likely to Go to the Doctor” published by the Standard Examiner on March 27, 2015.
Dr. Biddulph gives a statement on actions that would be taken if Ebola were to appear in the community, published by the Standard Examiner on October 2, 2014.