Neuropsychological Assessment in Elderly People
Neuropsychological evaluation in geriatrics has become indispensable, especially when considering degenerative dementia, vascular dementia, medication side effects, and normal changes associated with aging. This evaluation concerns the application of neuropsychological tests that measure qualitatively and quantitatively the cognitive functioning in older people and analysis of the complaints and the reports given by the family or the caregivers of the patient. The psychological biography of the patient offers important information with respect to the patient’s premorbid cognitive and behavioral functioning. The evaluation of attention processes is important to include in all of the neurological and neuropsychological explorations in elderly patients, because, when attentional problems exist, it is possible that other cognitive functions are affected as well. Memory is one of the cognitive functions that is most easily affected by neurological damage, and difficulty with memory is one of the indications that an older patient should be referred for neuropsychological examination.