Dementia Care in the Emergency Department

With Dr. Christine Binkley, MD, MPH

As the population ages, so does the prevalence of dementia. People with dementia are more likely to visit the ED, be hospitalized, and return to the ED more frequently than those without dementia. So how can we recognize dementia in the ED and provide thoughtful and appropriate care to reduce morbidity, mortality, and overall harm to these patients?

Dr. Shenvi and Dr. Binkley discuss what’s at risk when we don’t care for these patients well in the ED, and how to do better.

Key Points

  • Good history and physical takes time – talk to the primary caregiver
  • Toss out a wide net but don’t anchor to the first abnormal thing you find
  • Give patient and caregivers good VERBAL and written instructions for outpatient management


LaMantia MA, Stump TE, Messina FC, Miller DK, Callahan CM. Emergency Department Use Among Older Adults With Dementia. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2016;30(1):35-40. doi:10.1097/WAD.0000000000000118

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