Evaluating Dementia in the Primary Care Setting

APRIL 10, 2017
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

Dementia is even more common than heart failure, making it necessary for physicians in the primary care setting to understand, David Reuben, MD, Archstone professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) told MD Magazine.
“The first telltale [sign that someone may have dementia] is when things aren’t making sense,” Reuben said at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting (ACP 2017) in San Diego, California, “that in fact you’re not getting a coherent story, if people are asking the same questions over and over again, if they don’t seem to be following the conversation. It’s more of an inkling or kind of an index of suspicion that things aren’t quite right.”
Patients with cognitive impairment are usually referred to a specialist for two reasons: to establish the diagnosis and to manage the condition. Managing dementia can be both complicated and time-consuming, Reuben said, so there are times when a neurologist or psychologist can better help the patient.
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