Feature Article

Dementia: to screen or not to screen

Sharon Reutens, Carmelle Peisah, Henry Brodaty



With an increasingly ageing population, there is a need to be particularly vigilant for symptoms of dementia and to be familiar with the tools available for screening for this condition. The questions of who and when to screen for dementia will become more relevant.

Key Points

  • Screening for dementia in symptomatic elderly patients is necessary for the initiation of medication to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and allows patients and their families to plan for the future.
  • Brief (less than five minutes) cognitive screening tests are available.
  • A positive screening test is not equivalent to a diagnosis of dementia. Exclusion of other causes of cognitive impairment is necessary.
  • The Royal Australian College of General Practice has produced guidelines on the management of dementia in primary practice.