Pay attention! The critical importance of assessing attention in older adults with dementia

J Gerontol Nurs. 2012 Nov;38(11):23-7. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20121003-05. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Attention is an important cognitive domain that is affected in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. It influences performance in most other cognitive domains, as well as activities of daily living. Nurses are often unaware of the critical importance of assessing attention as part of the overall mental status examination. This article addresses an important gap in nurses' knowledge. The authors present a brief overview of attention as a critical cognitive domain in dementia; review instruments/methods for standardizing and enhancing the assessment of attention; and offer ways to help ensure that best practices in the assessment, recognition, and documentation of inattention are implemented in the clinical area. Clinical resources that practicing nurses may find helpful are included.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Attention*
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales