HealthDay News — Primary care physicians (PCPs) believe they are on the front lines of dementia care, but many feel unprepared, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report published March 11.

The report describes the prevalence, incidence, mortality, and costs of care for Alzheimer disease, with a special section focusing on PCPs’ experiences in Alzheimer care.

According to the report, 85 percent of people first diagnosed with dementia were diagnosed by a nondementia specialist, usually a PCP. Eighty-two percent of PCPs believe that they are on the front lines of providing critical elements of dementia care. Eighty-seven percent of PCPs expect the number of patients they see with dementia to increase during the next five years. Many PCPs report feeling unprepared for caring for patients with Alzheimer disease or other dementias, with 27 percent reporting being only sometimes or never comfortable with answering patient questions. Thirty-nine percent of PCPs report never or only sometimes being comfortable with making a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease or other dementias. Half of PCPs report the medical profession is not very or not at all prepared for the growing number of people with Alzheimer disease or other dementias. Twenty-two percent of PCPs reported having no residency training in dementia; 65 percent of those who had training reported having “very little” training.

“Considerable focus must be given to ensuring dementia care education, training, and ongoing learning opportunities are available for primary care physicians,” Joanne Pike, Dr.P.H., chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement.

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