Alzheimer’s Association releases clinical guidelines for primary care providers

The Alzheimer’s Association offered a sneak peek of its first clinical practice guidelines for primary care physicians in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias during its July 22 annual meeting in Chicago. 

Twenty recommendations comprise the full list which is set to be published later this year. The foundations of the guidelines were detailed in a press release from the organization and are included below:

  • All middle-aged or older individuals who self-report or whose care partner or clinician report cognitive, behavioral or functional changes should undergo a timely evaluation.
  • Concerns should not be dismissed as ‘normal aging’ without a proper assessment.
  • Evaluation should involve not only the patient and clinician but, almost always, also involve a care partner (for example, a family member or confidant).

“These new guidelines will provide an important new tool for medical professionals to more accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” said James Hendrix, PhD, and Alzheimer’s Association Director of Global Science Initiatives, in the statement. “As a result, people will get the right care and appropriate treatments; families will get the right support and be able to plan for the future.”

Embedded within the guidelines, according to the release, is a multi-teared approach to determine the best assessments and tests for each patient. That includes understanding that patient’s history not only from the individual in question, but someone close to the patient as well.

“Evaluation of cognitive or behavioral decline is often especially challenging in primary care settings,” said Bradford Dickerson, MD, and co-chair of the workgroup responsible for the guidelines. “Also, with recent advances in available diagnostic technology, there is a need for guidance on use of such tests in specialty and subspecialty care settings.”