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Many with dementia never screened

Study: 55% diagnosed with dementia never had memory, thinking evaluated

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A new study finds a majority of people who have dementia have never seen a doctor about their memory and thinking problems.

"A lot of people that are older will just chock off these memory complaints to just getting older, but the important thing is to not ignore them. To just say you're getting older, you've missed the opportunity to see if whether or not there is really something going on," explained Dr. Ronan Factora, who did not take part in the study but treats older adults at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied nearly 300 people with dementia. They found that only 45 percent of them had seen a doctor about their memory and thinking problems. This means that more than half of the people studied never had an evaluation of their cognitive abilities.

It turns out married people were more than twice as likely to have had a screening as unmarried people. Factora agrees with researchers who say people in their 60's and 70's should not blow off memory problems as "just a sign of aging."

"If you start to have problems doing more complex tasks like managing your finances, or taking your medications regularly, or you get disoriented with your driving, those can be early signs that we're thinking about early dementia," said Factora.

See the complete findings from this study in the journal Neurology at Neurology.org.