Understanding Dementia
Decrease FontIncrease FontPrintPrint

Health professionals should have a basic understanding of dementia

It is recommended that interdisciplinary health professionals develop a basic understanding of Alzheimer disease and the related dementias.

A working knowledge on this topic permits recognition of key clinical features, an ability to assess and distinguish between the different dementias, and to use this knowledge to plan effective care for people with dementia and their care providers.

General understanding and knowledge

More specific resources are posted within the clinical toolkits within each phase of the IH Phased Dementia Pathway.

About the IH Phased Dementia Pathway

The IH Phased Dementia Pathway assumes interdisciplinary health professionals have a basic working knowledge of the various common diseases that can cause cognitive loss and dementia, such as:

  • Alzheimer Disease 
  • Lewy Body Dementia 
  • Vascular Dementia 
  • Frontotemporal Dementia (including Pick’s disease)
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Dementia
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment

Understanding the cognitive continuum in the Pathway

It is important to mention that phasing and staging of dementia is a mental construct, not a precise science that results in clinical certainty. Progression of disease is a gradual process, and there are no tidy markers or easily distinguished “cut-off points” that develop between one day and the next to differentiate “normal” cognitive function from MCI or MCI from early dementia, etc.

Therefore, it is helpful to view the Phased Dementia Pathway as a continuum that reflects cognitive changes from normal healthy aging through to end-stage dementia.

There is no intention of the Phased Pathway to provide clinicians with rigid linear descriptions of disease progression, but simply a framework for organizing information and knowledge about the various progressive diseases collectively known as dementias.


MoH     PCQO