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Deciphering Dementia

Approximately 13% of Americans 71 and older are affected by dementia today. If you work in any setting but pediatrics, you're likely encountering more and more patients with some form of dementia. And in your personal life, if you're in my "middle-ish" age range, one or more of your parents or parents-in-law may be showing signs of memory or language deficits or changes in executive functioning.

This month's CME/CE offering provides education on strategies to manage early and midstage dementia. As Carolyn K. Clevenger, DNP, GNP-BC, explains, dementia is a prolonged condition with a significant timespan between symptom appearance and death. "It has a predictable course of decline, but it has unpredictable episodes of exacerbation and relative stability," she writes.

Because of these unique characteristics, experts recommend a chronic care approach to dementia management. This requires individualized treatment planning and, when possible, the involvement of family members. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are ideally suited to providing this type of healthcare, and you most certainly will be called on to do more of it as our country's geriatric population grows. Do you know where to find specialized resources?

In Las Vegas this month, nurse practitioners who specialize in geriatrics are gathering for the annual conference of GAPNA, the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. This national organization, previously known as the National Conference of Gerontological Nurse Practitioners, offers continuing education, networking and many other resources for NPs who work with older adults or who seek additional expertise in geriatrics. Visit the organization's website for information on membership and future conferences:

For physician assistants, the Society of Physician Assistants Caring for the Elderly (SPACE) offers resources and links at its website, SPACE is a constituent organization of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, and its members meet to network at the annual AAPA conference.

We hope you enjoy this issue. Find more articles on geriatric topics at our website,



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