Ridiculous Study of the Week: Seniors and Memory Checks

Memory loss and dementia is devastating issue for this country. Someone decided to study if doctors are checking to see if their elderly patients are getting screened for it and this is what they found:

About half of seniors say they’ve ever discussed thinking or memory with a health care provider, and less than a third say they’ve ever been assessed for possible cognitive problems, according to an Alzheimer’s Association survey being released Tuesday.

Even fewer, 16 percent, said they get regular cognitive assessments — a stark contrast to the blood pressure and cholesterol checks that just about everyone gets routinely. Just 1 in 3 knew cognition is supposed to be part of the annual wellness visit.

Ummm, how valid could this test be? I mean seriously. This will come off crude but they are asking seniors if they received a cognitive screen. Wouldn’t those with memory problems have trouble remembering? Doesn’t that make this type of survey ridiculous? I think so and therefore award these authors this week’s “Ridiculous Study of the Week” Award.


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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  9 comments for “Ridiculous Study of the Week: Seniors and Memory Checks

  1. Kurt
    March 9, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Cognition becomes a problem when the family or patient says it’s a problem. Screening doesn’t make a [email protected] bit of difference because nobody is going to do a thing about it until it’s noticeable.

    • Bridget Reidy
      March 19, 2019 at 11:31 pm

      Exactly. If I suspect it I always ask closest contact if they notice anything, and they usually don’t for about a year even as I tell them what I noticed and tell them what to be alert for. But I’ve been out of the States for awhile and am wondering if seniors with low health literacy, MCI or dementia even appear for annual wellness visits and what screen they require.

  2. Evelyn granieri
    March 9, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Slightly off topic, though I agree with your commentary, can we please stop using the condescending and infantalizing term “ seniors”? What’s wrong with “ older adults”?

    • Sir Lance-a-lot
      March 9, 2019 at 8:36 am

      What’s wrong with “old people”?

      We say “young people” and “middle-aged people.”

  3. Bob
    March 6, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    I can’t remember whether I screen for memory loss or not!

  4. Scribe/Former PT
    March 6, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    OMG. True story here. My first career was as a PT. Pissed-off orthopod comes storming into PT complaining his patient hadn’t been seen yet for gait training prior to discharge. We’d been seeing the lady for several days and there were notes in the chart to prove it. Doc had asked her (quite elderly) if she was seeing PT and she said no… when we went up there with the doc to question her a little further she saw us, “Oh hi! Are you going to take me for a walk again?” Doc asked again, I thought you hadn’t seen PT? She said she hadn’t – but this “nice lady nurse” had come to work with her on exercises and walking.

  5. PW
    March 6, 2019 at 9:13 am

    I was going to write a witty comment but now I can’t remember what I was going to say…

  6. Jennifer Hollywood
    March 6, 2019 at 8:11 am

    When I screen for memory issues at their wellness visit and the screen is abnormal, I ask them to return for a more complete evaluation. They all cancel their appointment or do not show. Plus their family then gets involved and is usually angry that I scared grandma about being demented.

  7. Sir Lance-a-lot
    March 6, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Did they also ask control questions like “Did you leave the stove on?” “No, really. Are you sure?”

    “Hey, why are you rushing off so fast?”

Comments are closed.