Researchers identify ways to improve emergency care for people living with dementia

Puzzle board with missing pieces in the shape of a person's head. Puzzle pieces trail from the open head off the board, as if they are starting to disappear from the complete puzzle.

A new collection of research papers sets out priority areas to better provide emergency care for people living with dementia in the United States.

While delirium – which, like dementia, also disrupts attention, cognition and consciousness – has been studied in emergency care, dementia has received less attention. And as the number of individuals with dementia in the U.S. is rapidly increasing due to an aging population – now around 6 million adults and expected to double in the next 25 years – emergency care for people with dementia will be important to fully understand.

A collection of research papers and an accompanying editorial from a research collaboration called the Geriatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network 2.0 – Advancing Dementia Care lays out what areas of research need to be undertaken to provide the best care for people living with dementia when they arrive at the emergency department.

The GEAR Network is led by a team from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. The papers were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

People living with dementia are potentially at greater risk for poor outcomes when seeking care at the emergency department, according to Dr. Manish Shah, professor of emergency medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and emergency physician, UW Health, who co-led the research team who developed the recommendations.

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