'Probable' Dementia Linked to Unsafe Behavior

Medically Reviewed

Older adults who probably have dementia but have not been given a diagnosis are more likely than those who have a diagnosis to engage in potentially dangerous activities.

Thos include driving, preparing hot meals, handling finances, managing medications, and visiting a physician on their own.

Investigators classified more than 7,600 men and women 65 or older into one of four groups—reported dementia diagnosis, probable dementia without a dementia diagnosis, possible dementia, or no dementia.

Those classifications were based on participants’ own reports of a dementia diagnosis, a screening interview, and cognitive testing. The findings were published in the June 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Of those who met criteria for probable (but undiagnosed) dementia, a full 20 percent reported engaging in potentially unsafe activities. Those in the probable dementia group were more likely to pursue unsafe activities than participants with possible or no dementia.

The findings held even after investigators adjusted collected data for sociodemographic factors, health status, medical conditions, and physical capacity.

So if you suspect that your loved one may have dementia, getting an assessment should be a priority. His or her safety may be at risk.