Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Information for Providers

As the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important to address this issue and provide quality support for patients and caregivers. As a healthcare professional, you are often one of the first to address a patient’s or family’s concerns relating to cognitive impairment or memory loss. Given this information, it is important to accurately recognize early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders and to educate patients and families about available services and care.

Furthermore, it is important to approach assessment and care planning collaboratively and holistically. Assessments should address the whole-person impact of dementia, and care planning should include discussions of quality of life, values, and goals.

What you should do

  • Practice Person-Centered Assessment and Care Planning more
    • Perform regular, comprehensive, person-centered assessments and timely interim assessments
    • Use assessment as an opportunity for information gathering, relationship-building, education, and support
    • Approach assessment and care planning with a collaborative, team approach
    • Use documentation and communication systems to facilitate the delivery of person-centered information between all care providers
    • Encourage advance planning to optimize physical, psychosocial, and fiscal wellbeing and to increase awareness of all care options, including palliative care and hospice
  • Practice Early Detection and Diagnosis
    • Make information about brain health and cognitive aging readily available to older adults and their families
    • Know the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment, that signs and symptoms do not constitute a diagnosis of dementia, and that a diagnostic evaluation is essential for diagnosis of dementia
    • Listen for concerns about cognition, observe for signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment, and note changes in cognition that occur abruptly or slowly over time
    • Develop and maintain routine procedures for detection of cognitive impairment and referral for diagnostic evaluation
    • Use a brief mental status test to detect cognitive impairment only if:
      • such testing is within the scope of practice of the nonphysician care provider, and
      • the nonphysician care provider has been trained to use the test; and
      • required consent procedures are known and used; and
      • there is an established procedure for offering a referral for individuals who score below a preset score on the test to a physician for a diagnostic evaluation
    • Encourage older adults whose physician has recommended a diagnostic evaluation to follow through on the recommendation
    • Support better understanding of a dementia diagnosis