What Specialties are Caring for Dementia Patients?

September 12, 2016
Perry Gwen Meyers, pmeyers@paltc.org

By 2050, an estimated 13.8% of the US population will be living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 34% increase in demand for nurse practitioners from 2012 to 2022, and a need for 36,000 geriatricians by 2030 – a five-fold increase from the current 7,147 geriatricians. A study, recently published in JAMDA¸ examined what clinical specialties are currently taking care of older adults with dementia.

The study found that:

  • In 2012, over 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries had a dementia diagnosis;
  • 80% of beneficiaries had a primary care provider (family practice, internal medicine, general practice, geriatric medicine, and nurse practitioner [NP]);
  • Among primary care providers, internists were the most frequent, followed by family practitioners and NPs; and
  • The specialists who cared for beneficiaries with dementia the most were: cardiologists, neurologists, hematologists/oncologists, and urologists.

The authors of the study point out that “among the specialties we have categorized as primary care, geriatrics is the only one that has substantial training in the diagnosis and treatment of dementia.” The study highlights the concerning difference between the small number of health care providers equipped to care for adults living with dementia, and the rapidly growing population with dementia. The investigators recommend future research to study whether treatment by a primary care provider or a specialist results in different health outcomes for those living with dementia.

To read the full study, click here. To contact the researchers or JAMDA Editor for interview contact pmeyers@paltc.org.


JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit www.jamda.com for more information.

AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit www.paltc.org for more information.