Evidence-Based Practice Guideline: Depression Detection in Older Adults With Dementia

J Gerontol Nurs. 2015 Nov;41(11):15-21. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20151015-03.


Depression and dementia are the two most common psychiatric syndromes in the older adult population. Depression in older adults with and without dementia often goes unrecognized and untreated. The current guideline recommends a three-step procedure that can be used across health care settings to screen for the presence of depressive symptoms. Implementation of the evidence-based guideline requires administration of the Mini-Mental State Examination and either the Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form or Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia, depending on level of cognitive functioning. The algorithm provided is designed to be used by nurses, physicians, and social workers for the purpose of depression screening in older adults with dementia. Detection of depression in individuals with dementia is hindered by a lack of a validated, brief screening tool. More research is needed on the use of such screenings among older adults with cognitive impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales