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Undertaking Assessments

The Basics

As noted by The Gupta Guide,1 researchers recommend a nine-step approach for practitioners when assessing health and function in adults with intellectual disability suspected of having MCI or dementia. These include:

•  Taking thorough history, with particular attention to "red flags" that potentially indicate premature dementia such as history of cerebrovascular disease or head injury, sleep disorders, or vitamin B12 deficiency
•  Documenting a historical baseline of function from family members of caregivers
•  Comparing current functional level with baseline
•  Noting dysfunctions that are common with age and also with possible emerging dementia
•  Reviewing medications and noting those that could impair cognition
•  Obtaining family history, with particular attention to a history of dementia in first-degree relative
•  Noting other destabilizing influences in patient's life such as leaving family, death of a loved one, or constant turnover of caregivers, which could trigger mood disorders
•  Reviewing the level of patient safety gleaned from social history, living environment, and outside support
•  Continually cross-referencing the information with the criteria for a dementia


1 Sunjay Gupta, The Gupta Guide, Aug 21, 2013, citing work done by Moran et. al.,"The national task group on intellectual disabilities and dementia practices consensus recommendations for the evaluation and management of dementia in adults with intellectual disabilities" Mayo Clin Proc 2013; 88(8): 831-840.

What are some first steps?


  • Complete a function and behavior reporting form, like the NTG-EDSD

  • Talk over with others to gain consensus on observations and impressions

  • Arrange for a clinical assessment by a nurse, psychologist, or medical doctor

  • Organize an diagnostic appointment with a clinic or practitioner, preferably one knowledgeable about dementia and intellectual disability

  • Be prepared to discuss the NTG-EDSD information with the assessor

Information on dementia assessments

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