Cognitive complaints are common among older people and have many causes, including the normal changes of ageing. A detailed history and cognitive screening are essential for diagnosis, and screening for medical and psychiatric conditions may identify a treatable cause. All older patients presenting with forgetfulness may benefit from neuroprotective advice. Specialist referral should be considered in complex cases or when dementia is suspected.
- Concerns about memory are common in older patients.
- Cognitive changes are normal for almost all people as they age, and assessment should focus on differentiating the normal changes of ageing from abnormal cognitive functioning.
- Primary cognitive problems should be differentiated from secondary disorders, such as those caused by a medication, medical condition or psychiatric problem.
- Assessment and follow up should include use of a cognitive screening tool such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) or General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition (GPCOG).
- The management of mild cognitive impairment includes good medical care and general neuroprotective advice, which is relevant to all older patients presenting with memory concerns.
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