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Can J Neurol Sci. 2001 Feb;28 Suppl 1:S72-6.

Dementia caregiving: the role of the primary care physician.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Family and friends play an important role in caring for individuals with dementia living in the community. In preparation for the Canadian Consensus Conference on Dementia held in Montreal, Canada in February 1998, the subject of dementia caregiving was reviewed in order to provide primary care physicians with some guidelines for their practice. The review was updated in June 2000 in preparation for this article.


Pertinent English-language publications and resources from the Alzheimer Society of Canada were reviewed from 1985 onwards. Findings related to the consequences of caregiving, services for caregivers and recommendations regarding the role of the primary care physician were reviewed.


Dementia caregivers experience many positive and negative consequences of caregiving. Some comprehensive services for caregivers have been shown to delay institutionalization and reduce negative consequences of caregiving. The primary care physician has a role to play in working with families and should address the following issues: 1) education about dementia; 2) psychological support for caregivers; 3) assistance mobilizing caregiver social support networks.


Primary care physicians have an important role to play in acknowledging and supporting the caregiving provided by family and friends to individuals with dementia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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