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Dementia and its Challenges - A Problem-Based Learning Case


Dementia and its Challenges - A Problem-Based Learning Case

University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine
Aaron Kheriaty, MD
Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
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This is a problem-based learning (PBL) case for medical students featuring a 73-year-old female patient with cognitive impairment.  The focus of the PBL case is the assessment and diagnosis of dementia, issues of elder abuse, challenges of caring for patients with dementia, and the prevalence of caregiver stress. 

Educational objectives: 


  1. Understand the core symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
  2. Appreciate the distinctions between various subtypes of dementia, and develop a differential diagnosis for elderly patients presenting with cognitive impairment.
  3. Explain the role of historical, clinical, neuroradiological, and neuropsychological tests in making the diagnosis of dementia.


  1. Recognize potential signs of elder abuse.
  2. Appreciate the specific psychosocial vulnerabilities inherent in geriatric populations.
  3. Recognize that elder abuse can come in many forms (e.g., not just limited to physical abuse or neglect, but can include things like financial abuse or subtle forms of manipulation).
  4. Recognize when conservatorship may be appropriate for an elderly patient with cognitive impairments.


  1. Demonstrate the appropriate threshold of suspicion for reporting elder abuse.
  2. Recognize that a physician has a duty, under law, to report suspected elder abuse in a patient.
  3. Demonstrate empathy and compassion for the unique situation of someone in the early or mid-stages of dementia.  Appreciate the difficulties and challenges for the individual, family, and society, of assisting those with Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Demonstrate an appreciation for, and ability to recognize, the common phenomenon of “caregiver burnout”.
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Estimated time to complete: 
1 hour 30 minutes
Conflict of Interest Disclosure: 
No, I (we) have nothing to disclose.
Already Expired Email Date: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 1:55am
Already Expired Email 1 month date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 12:35pm
Expired Email Date: 
Friday, March 30, 2018 - 5:22pm
Contact Person/Corresponding Author:
Dr. Nokteh Taheri

Suggested Citation:
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty. Dementia and its Challenges - A Problem-Based Learning Case. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2012 Available from: