The art of managing dementia in the elderly

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Dementia presents unique challenges for physicians, patients, and families, but it also offers a singular opportunity to practice the essence of the art of medicine. Elderly patients' complaints about cognition require evaluation and should never be written off as a "normal" part of aging. Dementia should be distinguished from conditions such as delirium and depression, and the type of dementia should be identified, since this will determine treatment. Treatments seek to alter the fundamental course of the disorder, to ameliorate symptoms, or to manage concomitant psychiatric and behavioral problems. Even when treatments prove ineffective, providing information and support is of great value to patients and their families and caregivers.


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