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New Manual Aims to Create Common Standards for Dementia Diagnosis Across Latin America

Dementia experts from the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), Universidad de Chile, Latin American Consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD), and other organizations have come together with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Alzheimer’s Association and others to produce a comprehensive manual of best practices for the diagnosis of dementia in Latin America—the first of its kind.

The “Manual de Buenas Prácticas Para El Diagnóstico de Demencias” (available in Spanish) provides basic standards and guidelines for the diagnosis of dementia in Latin America with tools and strategies for public and private healthcare providers in rural and urban areas, within and between countries.

"We produced this manual in response to the many challenges Latin America experiences related to health, care, research, diagnosis and treatment of patients with dementia and their families,” said Agustin Ibañez, PhD, Argentinian neuroscientist, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at GBHI, and editor of the manual. “We hope it will empower the Latin American communities to speak a common language related to dementia research, diagnosis, and treatment.”

Latin American countries face increasing challenges in dementia care, due in part to limited access to healthcare, lower education levels, and a rapidly aging population. Gaps in knowledge and misunderstandings of dementia among healthcare providers are also barriers to care. These challenges may be heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is already disproportionately affecting Latin American countries.

“This manual for non-specialist and specialist healthcare providers in dementia is an international effort to address these barriers,” said Andrea Slachevsky, Chilean neurologist at Universidad de Chile and co-editor of the manual.  

An early and accurate diagnosis of dementia can help in many ways, as it offers individuals with dementia and their families the opportunity to receive appropriate treatment, to make family care plans and to participate in research, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, a sponsor of the manual.

“This new manual is particularly important because it can unify diagnosis and care across Latin America by allowing clinics from various regions to use the same standardized and updated guide across different countries,” said Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association Chief Science Officer.

The manual presents a number of innovations, including a consensus approach to connect the diagnosis and care across different clinics within and between countries. It also helps promote the standardization of dementia diagnosis across Latin America, which is essential for stimulating large-scale research and creating the potential for future advances in the field.

By using clear and simple language, the manual is intended for use by both healthcare specialists and non-specialists responsible for dementia patients and their caregivers, including clinicians, researchers and students.

The “Manual de Buenas Prácticas Para El Diagnostico de Demencias” is published with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), Alzheimer’s Association, Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD), Multi-partner Consortium to Expand Dementia Research in Latin America (ReDLat), CUDIM de Uruguay, Fundación Ineco, Hospital Cesar Milstein and Universidad de San Andrés de Argentina, Fondecyt, Centro de Gerociencias, Salud Mental y Metabolismo (GERO) Universidad de Chile, Clínica de Memoria y Neuropsiquiatría (CMYN) Facultad de Medicina Universidad de Chile and Hospital del Salvador,  Centro de Neurociencia Social y Cognitiva (CSCN) Escuela de Psicología Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez.

 It is now available for free download.