Dementia in Primary Care
Dementia includes a wide variety of symptoms that may be responsible for more than 100 disorders. Among these, more than 50% are dementias with a degenerative element disorder, of which the most common is Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis of the specific disorder producing dementia is of paramount concern for the physician. The criteria for the diagnosis of dementia described in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association have been widely accepted. The diagnostic difficulties are threefold: differentiating early dementia from mild memory changes that are a normal age-related condition; differentiating dementia from primary psychiatric syndromes, particularly depression; and determining the presence of decline limited to just one cognitive domain. The age-related worsening of the memory is a frequent cause of concern for patients. Memory deficits in elderly people can be caused by a variety of reasons other than dementia.