The current emphasis on improving the quality of dementia services is welcome, but it treats dementia as if it were separable from complex comorbidities, disability and frailty. As a consequence, dementia can overshadow other problems, from heart failure to multisystem failure at the end of life, which may be poorly managed. Three ways in which old age psychiatrists can reconnect dementia with the diseases and disorders of later life are described in this editorial. The first is to improve skills in general practice so that general practitioners (GPs) can take on the bulk of the clinical work of both diagnosis and management of dementia and its comorbidities, while specialists retain complex decision-making and management tasks. The second is for old age psychiatrists to function as consultants to social enterprises run by GPs for the purpose of managing almost all patients with dementia in general practice. The third is for community geriatricians and old age psychiatrists to work together in integrated organisations that take full clinical responsibility for older people with dementia.