Recently published guidelines can help primary healthcare professionals identify the early signs of dementia.

The eLearning Dementia Education Resource for GPs and practice nurses is designed to build primary care confidence, competence and consistency in assessing, diagnosing and managing mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

Each of the 17 topics covered by the guidelines includes a short video presented by a geriatrician or psychiatrist of older people, with key points, printable resources and links.

The guidelines, published on the University of Auckland’s Goodfellow Unit website, were developed to support the District Health Boards’ Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Pathways.

Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says the guidelines are “a great example of collaboration and cooperation across the health sector”.

“This resource provides health professionals with helpful guidance at no cost,” she says.
“New Zealand’s population is ageing and, sadly, that means rising levels of dementia. Early detection is incredibly important – the sooner people get help and support, the better,” Wagner says.

“The Government is committed to improving dementia care in New Zealand through increased funding – including a boost of more than $100 million since 2011 – and the release of the New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care in 2013.”

Alzheimers New Zealand welcomes the new dementia guidelines for GPs and nurses but would like to see the Framework for Dementia Care fully implemented.

Chief Executive Catherine Hall says dementia is one of New Zealand’s biggest health challenges.

“It dramatically changes the lives of people who live with it, including people diagnosed with dementia, their families and communities. By introducing guideline for primary health care professionals, people living with dementia are more likely to get the help and support that they need,” she says.

“With the number of people with dementia set to triple to 170,000 by 2050, the time to act is now. We urge the Government to make the necessary commitment to implement the New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care.”

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