Majority of Those Diagnosed With Dementia Do Not Receive Care From Specialist

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The majority of older adults diagnosed with dementia do not receive specialty care.

HealthDay News — The majority of older adults diagnosed with dementia do not receive specialty care, according to a study published online Sept. 4 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Emmanuel Fulgence Drabo, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues quantified dementia diagnoses and subsequent health care over five years by etiologic subtype and physician specialty among 226,604 Medicare beneficiaries with incident dementia diagnosis in 2008 to 2009.

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The researchers found that 85 percent of people were diagnosed by a nondementia specialist physician. Use of dementia specialists was low following diagnoses, with 22 percent seeing a specialist within one year and 36 percent within five years. “Unspecified” dementia diagnoses were common and were higher among those diagnosed by nondementia specialists (33.2 percent) versus dementia specialists (21.6 percent).

“Nonspecialists and specialists may be complementary in dementia diagnosis and care,” coauthor Julie Zissimopoulos, Ph.D., of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said in a statement. “General practitioners and other nondementia specialists play an important role in screening because often they are the first point of contact, while specialists are key to making finer distinctions across dementia subtype.”

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