Dementia in elderly inpatients admitted to medical wards in Brazil: diagnosis and comorbidity with other clinical diseases

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Specific comorbidities affect older patients with dementia admitted to general hospitals and may complicate the recognition of dementia. The aim of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of dementia among elderly inpatients admitted to hospital medical wards and to identify its distribution across clinical and sociodemographic conditions.


From June 2011 to May 2012, a sample of elderly inpatients (≥60 years old) were screened for dementia with the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Bayer Activities of Daily Living Scale to identify cognitive and functional impairment (CFI). Subjects with CFI underwent a diagnostic procedure for dementia using the Cambridge Mental Disorders of the Elderly Examination and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition. The elderly inpatients also completed a standard questionnaire to investigate sociodemographic and clinical variables and a screening procedure for depression and delirium. The data obtained were submitted to univariate and multivariate analyses.


The sample of 224 subjects had a mean age of 71.5 years and was mostly men (62.2%), poorly educated (≤4 years of schooling: 74.6%), and married (53.4%). CFI was observed in 84 subjects (prevalence: 37.4%; 95% confidence interval: 31.1–43.7), and dementia was observed in 31 subjects (prevalence: 17.2%; 95% confidence interval: 12.3–22.1). Dementia was related to older age and the presence of delirium, stroke, and pneumonia.


The prevalence of CFI and dementia was high among the elderly inpatients examined. The identification of medical and sociodemographic conditions associated with a dementia diagnosis in a general hospital may be useful in the development of preventative actions.

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