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How Can Dementia Be Diagnosed

Consider Moving Them To A Retirement Community

How is dementia diagnosed?

If your loved one is in the later stages of dementia and youre unable to provide them the rightful care that they need, moving them to a trusted retirement community is a good idea. In communities like ours, we have special programs that help your loved one with memory care. This can help them manage their symptoms while being a part of a lovely resort-style community. Please contact us to find out more about our memory care program in our retirement community.

What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.

  • Alzheimers Association. Stages of Alzheimers. Accessed May 27, 2021.
  • National Institute on Aging. Alzheimers Disease Fact Sheet. Content reviewed May 2019. Accessed May 27, 2021.
  • What To Do If A Loved One Is Suspicious Of Having Dementia

    • Discuss with loved one. Talk about seeing a medical provider about the observed changes soon. Talk about the issue of driving and always carrying an ID.
    • Medical assessment. Be with a provider that you are comfortable with. Ask about the Medicare Annual Wellness exam.
    • Family Meeting. Start planning, and gather documents like the Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Estate Plan.

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    Your Loved One Is Diagnosed With Dementia: Now What

  • Senior Care
  • Your Loved One Is Diagnosed
  • A dementia diagnosis can be frightening for the patient but aside from the patient themselves, this diagnosis can be difficult for you as a loved one. You might be wondering what it is that you have to do to make life easier for them, as well as for yourselves. However, before you can implement any changes, its important for you to understand what exactly dementia is. Taking this process step by step will allow you to make a decision that is best for yourself and your loved ones too! Read on to find out more about dementia and what you should do next after your loved one gets a dementia diagnosis.

    What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis

    How do you die from dementia?

    Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning thinking, remembering, and reasoning to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.

    Dementia is more common as people grow older but it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.

    There are several different forms of dementia, including Alzheimers disease. A persons symptoms can vary depending on the type.

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    How To Get A Dementia Diagnosis

    The dementia diagnosis process can vary for everyone. This page describes the typical steps involved in getting a diagnosis, including what might happen if you are referred to a specialist.

    For many people, getting a dementia diagnosis can be quite simple and take just a few weeks. For others it can take much longer sometimes more than a year.

    There isnt yet a simple test for dementia, so a diagnosis is normally based on a mixture of different types of assessment.

    You will have several tests to give healthcare professionals enough information to tell you what is causing your symptoms.

    For most people, the process usually follows these steps:

  • Your GP or another health professional at the GP surgery will carry out an initial assessment. If they think its possible you might have dementia, they will refer you to a local memory service, which has medical staff who specialise in dementia.
  • A specialist will test your memory and see how you answer different types of questions. You dont need to prepare for this. You may have a scan to check for changes in your brain.
  • The specialist will tell you what they think is causing your symptoms, based on what you have told them and the results from your tests. You will then be able to access the support that is right for you.
  • But the assessment process can vary, and will not be the same for everyone.

    Talking to your GP about dementia

    Difficulty Completing Normal Tasks

    A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a checkbook or playing games that have a lot of rules.

    Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.

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    What Increases The Risk For Dementia

    • AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
    • Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
    • Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
    • Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
    • Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.

    Who Else May A Person With Dementia See

    How to get a diagnosis of dementia?

    A person with suspected dementia may come into contact with a range of health and social care professionals. Consultants usually operate within specialist teams, including nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers. Nurses who work with people with dementia, and those caring for them, include: community mental health nurses , who work in the community, providing treatment, care and support for people with mental health problems and dementia district or community nurses, who provide care and advice for people living at home and practice nurses, who work with doctors in GP practices.

    Clinical psychologists, who often work with consultants in memory clinics, assess memory and learning abilities. Occupational therapists can advise people on ways of maintaining their independence including carrying out adaptations and using special equipment. Social workers may be involved in assessing someones need for care services and home care workers may be brought in to help with personal and other care. Physiotherapists may be asked to advise on exercise for people, particularly in the early stages of dementia. Dieticians may be asked to provide guidance on nutrition, poor appetite, weight loss or weight gain.

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    How Is Dementia Treated

    Treatment of dementia depends on the underlying cause. Neurodegenerative dementias, like Alzheimers disease, have no cure, though there are medications that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms such as anxiety or behavior changes. Research to develop more treatment options is ongoing.

    Leading a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and maintaining social contacts, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases and may reduce number of people with dementia.

    What Are The Early Symptoms Of Dementia

    If your loved one is suffering from dementia, they are less likely going to complain of any symptoms of memory loss or any other problems associated with cognitive impairment. As family members or caregivers, you are likely going to notice the symptoms first.

    Its important to identify early symptoms of dementia so you can take care of your loved one effortlessly.

    Here are some of the early warning signs that your loved one is suffering from dementia.

    • Difficulty writing, speaking, or remembering words
    • Losing interest in their favorite hobbies and activities
    • Trouble keeping up with their work
    • Personality or behavioral changes
    • Repeating questions, behaviors, and phrases
    • Losing track of time, events, and missing appointments
    • Difficulty taking care of a pet
    • Withdrawal from family and friends
    • Agitation or stress

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    Don’t Assume It’s Dementia

    Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, alcoholism, infections, hormone disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.

    Is There A Test To Check For Dementia

    This Dementia Sign Can Show Up 16 Years Before Diagnosis, New Study Says

    When you visit your GP, they will conduct a mini memory test and run some blood tests to help rule out any other causes. The memory test includes some simple questions and tasks to demonstrate your recall. Depending on the results from these, you will either be referred to the Dementia Assessment Service, or you could be invited to come back in 6 months for reassessment. MRI scans are not routinely used

    The Dementia Assessment Service will carry out an initial assessment that will take about 90 minutes to complete. . This can include a biopsychosocial assessment, taking a personal history and gathering information, using a more detailed but still short cognitive assessment tool. The cumulative results of all the information gathered go toward formulating a diagnosis. It’s important to note that memory services can vary in how they undertake any assessment process.

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    Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia

    When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:

    • Delusional behavior

    Misdiagnosis And Second Opinions

    One of the common reactions to a difficult situation is denial. It’s not unusual to say, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Or, “I don’t think this is correct. It’s got to be something else.” While this questioning may be a part of the grieving process of this diagnosis, it could also have its merits.

    It’s not a bad idea to get a second opinion. Occasionally, there have been misdiagnoses of dementia, when in truth the mental challenges were caused by something else that could be treated and at least partially reversed.

    There are many possible causes of forgetfulness, and some of them are due to conditions such as stress, fatigue, or depression. Properly addressing them can result in significant improvements in cognitive functioning.

    If a second opinion provides you with some peace of mind, it may be well worth it, even if it doesn’t change the diagnosis.

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    How Dementia Is Assessed And Diagnosed

    Expert reviewer, Dr Rahul Bhattacharya, Consultant PsychiatristNext review due, March 2023

    Diagnosing dementia can be difficult and take time. You probably wont get a definite answer immediately. There are many different types of dementia. In older people, other conditions can be confused with dementia, including delirium and depression.

    Its very important to see a health professional if youre concerned about symptoms such as memory problems in yourself or a loved one. You cant diagnose dementia on your own.

    Current Practice In Diagnosing Dementia

    Getting a Dementia Diagnosis

    The remainder of this information will provide an overview of the diagnosis process and a guide to what happens after diagnosis.

    It is important to remember that there is no definitive test for diagnosing Alzheimers disease or any of the other common causes of dementia. Findings from a variety of sources and tests must be pooled before a diagnosis can be made, and the process can be complex and time consuming. Even then, uncertainty may still remain, and the diagnosis is often conveyed as possible or probable. Despite this uncertainty, a diagnosis is accurate around 90% of the time.

    People with significant memory loss without other symptoms of dementia, such as behaviour or personality changes, may be classified as having a Mild Cognitive Impairment . MCI is a relatively new concept and more research is needed to understand the relation between MCI and later development of dementia. However, MCI does not necessarily lead to dementia and regular monitoring of memory and thinking skills is recommended in individuals with this diagnosis.

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    What To Do If A Doctor Jumps To A Diagnosis In A Single Visit

    Unfortunately, some doctors do jump quickly to a dementia diagnosis in only one visit. Even worse, they dont properly document what led to their decision.

    If this happens, you may want to seek a second opinion from a doctor who is willing and able to do more thorough evaluation and testing.

    Yes, there is a chance that your older adults symptoms could mean that they have dementia.

    Thats why an accurate diagnosis is essential for proper treatment.

    Dementia Screening And Your Healthcare Provider

    There is a screening test called the SAGE that is available online for people to use in the comfort of their own homes. You can take the test at home and see how you do, but be aware that the results should be brought to a healthcare provider for review.

    Usually, you will want to start with your primary care physician. Some primary care physicians will handle this evaluation completely themselves, while others will refer you to a specialist in the area of memory and cognition.

    Some communities have memory loss or neurological clinics that specialize in the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of these concerns, and these clinics can be a valuable resource. If this service is available in your community, be sure to call ahead to find out if a referral is needed from your primary care physician or if you can schedule an appointment directly with the clinic.

    While you can, of course, go alone to the healthcare provider, it is often very helpful to bring someone else with you so that more than one person is hearing the practitioner’s words and can help you ask questions. Because going to the healthcare provider can sometimes be a stressful experience, especially when you’re worried, having someone else there to support you can be very beneficial.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia

    Early symptoms of dementia include :

    • Forgetting recent events or information
    • Repeating comments or questions over a very short period of time
    • Misplacing commonly used items or placing them in usual spots
    • Not knowing the date or time
    • Having difficulty coming up with the right words
    • Experiencing a change in mood, behavior or interests

    Signs that dementia is getting worse include:

    • Ability to remember and make decisions further declines
    • Talking and finding the right words becomes more difficult
    • Daily complex tasks, such as brushing teeth, making a cup of coffee, working a tv remote, cooking, and paying bills become more challenging
    • Rational thinking and behavior and ability to problem solve lessen
    • Sleeping pattern change
    • Anxiety, frustration, confusion, agitation, suspiciousness, sadness and/or depression increase
    • More help with activities of daily living grooming, toileting, bathing, eating is needed
    • Hallucinations may develop

    The symptoms mentioned above are general symptoms of dementia. Each person diagnosed with dementia has different symptoms, depending on what area of the brain is damaged. Additional symptoms and/or unique symptoms occur with specific types of dementia.

    Referral To A Dementia Specialist

    Do you have a parent or loved one recently diagnosed with dementia or ...

    Dementia can be difficult to diagnose, especially if your symptoms are mild.

    If the GP has been able to rule out other causes for your symptoms, they’ll refer you to a healthcare professional who specialises in diagnosing dementia, such as:

    • a psychiatrist with experience of treating dementia
    • a doctor specialising in elderly care
    • a doctor specialising in the brain and nervous system

    The specialist may work in a memory clinic with other professionals who are experts in diagnosing, caring for, and advising people with dementia, and their families.

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    What Are The Different Types Of Dementia

    Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.

    The five most common forms of dementia are:

    • Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
    • Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
    • Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
    • Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
    • Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.

    Can Dementia Be Prevented

    Although dementia cannot be prevented, living a health-focused life might influence risk factors for certain types of dementia. Keeping blood vessels clear of cholesterol buildup, maintaining normal blood pressure, controlling blood sugar, staying at a healthy weight basically, staying as healthy as one can can keep the brain fueled with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function at its highest possible level. Specific healthful steps you can take include:

    • Follow a Mediterranean diet, which is one filled with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish and shellfish, nuts, beans, olive oil and only limited amounts of red meats.
    • Exercise. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
    • Keep your brain engaged. Solve puzzles, play word games, and try other mentally stimulating activities. These activities may delay the start of dementia.
    • Stay socially active. Interact with people discuss current events keep your mind, heart, and soul engaged.

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