9 of 10 Older Adults Agree to Dementia Screens A new study shows that almost 90 percent of those between the ages of 65 to 96 typically consent to be screened for dementia.

Refusal rates did vary somewhat for particular age cohorts as the odds of refusal were higher for patients age 70 to 79 than for those age 65 to 69 or for those age 80 or older. Refusal rates were lowest for those who ranged in age from 65 to 69.

Seventy percent of study participants were female, and slightly over half of those in the study were African-American.

Three quarters of the older adults had an annual income of less than $20,000. Willingness to undergo dementia screening was not influenced by sex, race or income level. Refusal rates also did not vary by education level.

“Unlike past studies which asked about theoretical willingness to be screened for dementia and found less interest, we looked at actual willingness of primary care patients to be screened,” said Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH, associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The majority of older adults receive their health care from primary care physicians.

“We were surprised by the fact that only one in 10 older adults did not want to be screened for dementia, and we believe this finding of an extremely high level of acceptance of screening by our well-powered study will help doctors evaluate the benefits and harms of dementia screening by providing the voice and perceptions of patients,” said Boustani.

Boustani also pointed out that if dementia screening is recommended in the future, special efforts will need to be employed to reach those in their 70s because of their higher rate of refusal.

Researchers discovered that study participants who indicated stronger agreement to statements about the benefits of knowing about dementia earlier (for example, ability to plan for the future) were more likely to accept screening.

Of the 497 individuals screened in the study, 13 percent were found to be positive for dementia and were referred for a confirmatory diagnostic assessment.

The study is found in the June issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source: University of Indiana