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Task Force: Impairment Screening Shouldn't Be Routine

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued a recommendation against routine cognitive-impairment screening for older adults who do not have symptoms.

The task force said there isn’t enough evidence to determine the effectiveness of screening all older adults.

[The evidence] “is insufficient at this time,” said Task Force co-vice chair Al Siu, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Dementia, a form of cognitive impairment, affects up to 5.5 million Americans. The most well-known kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s. Cognitive impairment is not always as severe as dementia; mild cognitive impairment doesn’t interfere with daily activities.

In issuing its recommendation against routine screening, the task force emphasized that the issue of mild to moderate dementia shouldn’t be ignored. “Clinicians should remain alert to early signs or symptoms of cognitive impairment and evaluate as appropriate,” Siu said.

 “More research is needed on how detection of mild to moderate dementia can help older adults, their families, and their doctors make decisions about health care and plan for the future,” added Task Force member Douglas K. Owens, M.D., M.S. “While the evidence on the effectiveness of preventive screening for cognitive impairment is unclear, the Task Force has published recommendations related to several of the risk factors for cognitive impairment, including counseling on tobacco cessation, alcohol use, healthful diet, physical activity, and falls prevention, as well as screening for high cholesterol, hypertension, and depression.”

The final recommendation, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, is available in full at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

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