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Alzheimers Dement. 2007 Apr;3(2):75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2007.03.005.

Should older adults be screened for dementia? It is important to screen for evidence of dementia!

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1
Stanford/VA Alzheimer Center, Department of Psychiatry, Palo Alto VA Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA, USA. washford@medafile.com

Abstract

Multiple arguments for considering routine dementia screening have been presented. Furthermore, dementia diagnoses are widely unrecognized. As a result, persons with dementia are missing important clinical care and treatment interventions. By distinction, the problems of defining, diagnosing, and treating mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are not yet resolved, and MCI is not ready for a screening recommendation. Dementia screening approaches, including cognitive testing and functional assessment, must be evaluated on their scientific merits, including sensitivity and specificity for recognizing affected individuals in at-risk populations. Screening tests must be "cost-worthy", with the benefits of true-positive test results justifying the costs of testing and resolving false-positive cases, with due consideration for proper diagnostic evaluation and potential harms. With the tremendous number of new cases projected in the near future and the expected emergence of beneficial therapies, considerably more research is needed to develop more efficient screening systems.

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