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Keywords:

  • dementia;
  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • diagnosis;
  • diagnostic evaluation;
  • diagnostic assessment;
  • early diagnosis;
  • pharmacological treatment;
  • early treatment

Abstract

This paper reviews and discusses existing barriers to diagnosis and treatment for patients with dementia in Europe as well as approaches to overcome these barriers. The barriers to care are manifold, being present at all levels in each society and between countries in Europe. Multilevel and multifaceted strategies are needed to improve diagnosis and treatments for all patients with cognitive complaints. A multidisciplinary approach based on close collaboration between GPs and specialised memory clinics may be the ideal model for early accurate diagnosis and subsequently early pharmacological and psychosocial interventions. For all healthcare professionals, there should be specialised training in dementia and frequently updated practice guidelines to provide the framework for standards of care. Culture-sensitive strategies to promote public knowledge and destigmatize dementia are essential. Policy makers and authorities should be made aware of the benefits of early access to diagnosis and treatment. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.