Screening for dementia and depression in older people
Intended for healthcare professionals
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Screening for dementia and depression in older people

Emma Pritchard Research Fellow, RCN Gerontological Nursing Programme, Oxford
Jan Dewing Senior Fellow, RCN Gerontological Nursing Programme, Oxford

Nurses have a valuable role to play in screening for dementia and depression in older people but they must be confident, adequately trained and supported. The authors conclude that screening and assessment is vital for older people to gain access to specialist mental health services.

Aims and intended learning outcomes

The practice of screening and assessing the mental health status of older people living in the community can be carried out by nurses working in primary care, with people in their own homes, in surgeries or clinics and in nursing or residential care homes. After reading this article, you should be able to:

Understand why primary care nurses are concerned with the mental health of older people.

Understand why older people may be vulnerable to depression and dementia.

Be aware of the importance of early detection of these conditions.

Be able to identify how older people may exhibit symptoms of depression and dementia.

Understand why these mental health problems may be undetected in an older person.

Consider ways in which the nursing assessment of an older person might be developed to include assessment and screening for dementia.

Mental Health Practice. 3, 6, 30-36. doi: 10.7748/mhp2000.03.3.6.30.c1670

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