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Family Medicine

Answer 1
  1. Her chance of having Alzheimer’s dementia is less than 5%. Alzheimer’s dementia is found in approximately 5% of persons aged 65 years, and this percentage increases about 5% every 5 years, leading to a prevalence of 40% to 50% by age 85 years.1 A diagnosis of dementia includes a detailed history and verification with a close observer. Age-associated cognitive changes include a decline in information processing and new learning, and old age per se does not imply pathologic memory decline. Medications, including over-the-counter preparations and herbal supplements, are a common cause of cognitive impairment in the elderly. The degree of memory loss must include severe impairment in social or occupational functioning and represent a major decline from a previous level of functioning to meet the DSM-IV criteria for dementia.

    1. Evans DA, Funkenstein HH, Albert MS, et al. Prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in a community population of older persons. Higher than previously reported. JAMA 1989;262:2551-6.

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