Alzheimers 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.
Her chance of having Alzheimers dementia is less than 5%.
1. Evans DA, Funkenstein HH, Albert MS, et al. Prevalence of Alzheimers disease in a community population of older persons. Higher than previously reported. JAMA 1989;262:2551-6.
Click here to return to the questions
Seminars in Medical Practice
Hospital Physician Board Review Manuals
Copyright © 2009, Turner White Communications
Updated 1/04/08 kkj