Detection of memory impairment in a community-based system: A collaborative study
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The ability to distinguish between older people with cognitive impairment and those who age in a healthy manner is crucial because cognitive impairment may be a precursor to full-blown dementia. Therefore, an early diagnosis of cognitive impairment is important. However, patients are often admitted to a hospital only when they already have a serious cognitive impairment. Consequently, cooperative studies between clinics and community-based organizations may assist hospitals in detecting early cognitive impairment. This article examines how community-based organizations can contribute to the early diagnosis of dementia. A cooperation model between the Neurology Department of Mersin University Hospital and the Mersin branch of the Alzheimer's Association was developed. Trained professionals used a neuropsychological battery to evaluate 50 individuals at the Mersin branch of the Alzheimer's Association in Turkey. Individuals whose performance fell below the average (1 standard deviation or less) were subsequently referred to the hospital. On the basis of the neurological and neuropsychological assessments, 11 participants were placed in the mild cognitive impairment group and 39 were placed in the healthy group. The results suggest that the Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination and the Three Words-Three Shapes Test are useful tools for detecting early memory impairments in a community-based setting.