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Memory impairment among primary care veterans

Chodosh J, Sultzer DL, Lee ML, Hahn TJ, Reuben DB, Yano EM, Mittman BS, Rubenstein LZ. Memory impairment among primary care veterans. Aging & mental health. 2007 Jul 1; 11(4):444-50.

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Memory impairment is the most frequent cognitive dysfunction for older patients. Though studies have shown that dementia is often overlooked in primary care settings, there has been minimal focus specifically on memory impairment, on patients' concerns about memory, or their desire to address these concerns. The objectives of this study were to (1) investigate the prevalence of memory impairment among patients without dementia diagnoses, (2) determine the degree of patients' concern about memory impairment and (3) identify other patient characteristics associated with memory impairment among older primary care patients. Using telephone versions of a four-item memory test and proxy-reported cognitive decline for patients unable to complete interviews, we performed memory assessment of randomly selected patients, 75 years and older, without dementia diagnoses who see primary care physicians at least twice every six months. Among 260 patients and 20 proxies, 19.8% had memory impairment at a level indicative of probable dementia. Adjusting for age, ethnicity, and education, subjects who were more concerned about memory impairment were more likely to be impaired. (Adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.4 (for each additional level of concern); 95% confidence interval [CI]: (1.0-2.0)). Similarly, subjects wanting their physician to discuss with them their memory concerns were more likely to be impaired (AOR: 1.4; 95% CI: 1.0-1.9). Memory impairment is common among older primary care patients without diagnosed dementia. Knowing patients' concerns about memory impairment and their desire to discuss these concerns may facilitate cognitive screening in this setting.

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