Questions for family physicians and health professionals to ask when cognitive impairment is suspected

Cognitive impairment occurs along a continuum from mild subjective memory complaints occurring during the normal aging process to severe memory and cognitive deficits due to dementia. The significant growth of the older adult population and the rising incidence of dementia are posing significant challenges for the health-care system. Health practitioners are on the front lines of this battle and will play an increasingly important role in the early identification of the disease. Below are sample questions to assess whether cognitive symptoms have affected the patient's functions and which cognitive domains are most impaired. Cognitive screening tests are helpful in detecting people in the early stages of dementia and facilitate further clinical and diagnostic evaluations. For more information, please see the Canadian Consensus Guidelines on Dementia Care.