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Bull Acad Natl Med. 2005 Oct;189(7):1383-90; discussion 1390-1.

[Early clinical signs of dementia in the elderly].

[Article in French]

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L'Académie Nationale de Médecine.


Clinical signs and symptoms preceding the onset of dementia are sometimes acute, such as mood disorders often associated with hypochondriacal traits and cognitive slowing, sudden and serious suicide attempts, character and conduct disorders contrasting with the previous state, and psychotic disorders presenting as pathological mistrust, or ill-structured prejudice or persecution. Most forerunning symptoms reflect a progressive deterioration of cognitive functions over a long period, that have been masked by various coping strategies used by the patient with the spouse's help. Progressive cognitive deficits may develop over years before dementia can be diagnosed with confidence. Quantitative tools can help to detect dementia incipiens, such as the Folstein Mini Mental Test, the Mattis Dementia Scale, the five-word learning test, the clock drawing test, and the brief cognitive battery. The profile of early cognitive deterioration varies according to the type of dementia (Alzheimer's disease, fronto-temporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia). The symptoms of dementia may be interlinked with symptoms of other disorders. Neuropsychological tests and brain imaging are needed to validate the diagnosis.

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