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Diagnostic Evaluation of Elderly Patients with Mild Memory Problems

Jason H.T. Karlawish, MD; and Christopher M. Clark, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Grant Support: By a Paul Beeson Fellowship (Dr. Karlawish) and by the National Institute on Aging (NIA K01-AG00931 and NIA P01-AG10124 [Dr. Karlawish]; NIA P01-AG10124 and AG-09215 [Dr. Clark]).

Requests for Single Reprints: Jason H.T. Karlawish, MD, Institute on Aging, 3615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail, jasonkar@mail.med.upenn.edu.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: Dr. Clark has been a paid participant in advisory board meetings for Janssen Pharmaceutica, Parke-Davis, Eisai, and Elan (formerly Athena Neurosciences). He has received honoraria from Parke-Davis, Eisai, and Pfizer for giving educational presentations on the diagnosis and treatment of Alzeheimer disease. Dr. Clark has also participated in research studies sponsored by Elan, Eisai, and Parke-Davis. Dr. Karlawish has received an educational grant from Ortho-McNeil.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Karlawish: Institute on Aging, 3615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Dr. Clark: Penn Ralston Center, 3615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.


Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(5):411-419. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-138-5-200303040-00011
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This case-based discussion focuses on the clinical presentation and diagnostic assessment of a uniquely challenging group of elderly patients: those with symptoms of mild memory problems. Such patients present a challenge to clinicians because of flux in our understandings of normal, age-related cognitive changes; of cognitive changes due to neurodegenerative illnesses; and of the relationships between depression and cognitive impairment. In addition, symptoms of memory problems may be reported by an observer rather than by the patient. These challenges warrant stepwise evaluation of elderly patients who present with symptoms of memory loss.

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