How Did the Doctor Decide? What SLPs Should Know About the Medical Diagnosis of Dementia Even though the speech-language pathologist (SLP) does not assign a medical diagnosis, communication disorders professionals are responsible for the provision of screening and assessment of cognitive/linguistic skills in health-care environments. When a new patient is admitted with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or another dementing condition, or when an existing ... Article
Article  |   July 01, 2008
How Did the Doctor Decide? What SLPs Should Know About the Medical Diagnosis of Dementia
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Pamela A. Smith
    Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   July 01, 2008
How Did the Doctor Decide? What SLPs Should Know About the Medical Diagnosis of Dementia
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, July 2008, Vol. 13, 12-19. doi:10.1044/gero13.1.12
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, July 2008, Vol. 13, 12-19. doi:10.1044/gero13.1.12
Abstract

Even though the speech-language pathologist (SLP) does not assign a medical diagnosis, communication disorders professionals are responsible for the provision of screening and assessment of cognitive/linguistic skills in health-care environments. When a new patient is admitted with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or another dementing condition, or when an existing patient seems to be exhibiting cognitive decline, the SLP should be aware of the procedures that the medical profession suggests for the assignment of this medical diagnosis. Furthermore, an awareness of the co-morbid conditions that can exacerbate cognitive impairments can guide the SLP in making appropriate referrals so that patients' cognitive abilities remain at their highest potential. The purpose of this article is to review the medical literature about the recommended practices for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease and other dementing conditions, to contrast the cognitive impairments that occur with some more common diseases and conditions, and to invite thoughtful reflection on the part of the SLP working with residents who have an Alzheimer's disease or other dementing diagnosis on a face sheet, a care plan, or a list of ICD-9 codes.

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