Helping primary care to support people with dementia


Clinicians can refer a person with memory problems to a consultant in a particular specialty, such as:

  • Neurologists who specialise in disorders of the brain and nerve pathways. Some neurologists have particular experience in diagnosing dementia especially young onset and atypical dementia.
  • Specialists in medicine for older people (geriatricians) who specialise in the physical illnesses and disabilities commonly associated with old age and in the care of older people. If the person who is being diagnosed has reached retirement age they may be referred to one of these specialists to see whether their symptoms are due to a physical illness, or to find out whether they are suffering from a physical illness as well as dementia.
  • General adult psychiatrists specialise in diagnosing and treating a wide range of mental health problems. A younger person may be referred to a psychiatrist to assist in the diagnosis.
  • Old age psychiatrists are psychiatrists who have further specialised in the mental health problems of older people, including dementia. They may sometimes also offer support to younger people with dementia.
  • There is a subset of psychiatrists who have specialist knowledge about people with learning disability to whom this group of patients with suspected dementia are referred.

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