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How Do They Test You For Dementia

What To Do If You Notice Dementia Symptoms

Is A Loved One Developing Dementia? 3 Tests You Can Do to Find Out.

If youre worried that youve been forgetting things more than usual, its worth booking an appointment with your GP. Sometimes, your GP may ask you if you have any concerns about your memory, even if youre visiting them about something else. This might be if youre considered to be at increased risk of dementia due to other health conditions. You might also be assessed for dementia if youve been admitted to hospital for other reasons.

If you notice a loved one is having problems with their memory or other changes in behaviour, try to encourage them to visit their GP too. Its a good idea if someone who knows the person well, such as a close family member, goes too. Early symptoms of dementia are often more noticeable to friends and family than the person themselves.

Getting Your Dementia Diagnosis

Once youve had the necessary tests, your doctor should ask if you want to know your diagnosis.

They should explain what having a dementia might mean for you. They should also give you time to talk more about the condition and ask questions.

Unless you decide differently, your doctor should discuss with you and your family:

  • the type of dementia you have, or if it is not clear, how they will investigate further if a diagnosis may not be clear, the doctors will reassess you after a certain time
  • symptoms and how the illness might develop
  • appropriate treatments you might be offered
  • care and support services in your area
  • support groups and voluntary organisations for people with a dementia and their families and carers
  • advocacy services
  • where you can find financial and legal advice

They should also give you written information about dementia.

Who Is This Dementia Quiz For

Below is a list of 9 questions composed for people who are concerned about memory loss. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have symptoms of dementia, currently known as Neurocognitive Disorder , and are based on criteria in the DSM-5.

The following questions encompass the six domains of cognition that are evaluated when assessing symptoms NCD: executive functioning, complex attention, perceptual-motor ability, social interactions, learning/memory-related difficulties, and challenges involving daily activities.

Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.

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Other Scans And Procedures To Diagnose Dementia

Other types of scan, such as a SPECT scan or a PET scan, may be recommended if the result of your MRI or CT scan is uncertain.

However, most people will not need these types of scans.

Both SPECT and PET scans look at how the brain functions, and can pick up abnormalities with the blood flow in the brain.

If a specialist is worried that epilepsy may be causing the dementia symptoms, an EEG may be taken to record the brain’s electrical signals , but this is rare.

Page last reviewed: 3 July 2020 Next review due: 3 July 2023

Can Dementia Suddenly Get Worse


The progression of dementia depends on the underlying disease. Some diseases have a rapid progression. Others progress more slowly. Any sudden change with either slow or rapid progression should be evaluated for another cause. In most cases, changes with dementia may seem like they came out of the blue when they actually may have been slowly developing in the background. The best way to prepare for changes and manage expectations is through information. Your doctor and medical team will be a valuable resource. There are a variety of educational resources that are also available through the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Can Dementia Be Inappropriately Diagnosed In A Single Visit

Sadly, yes. Although its common for doctors to never diagnose dementia at all in people who have it, I have also come across several instances of busy doctors rattling off a dementia diagnosis, without adequately documenting how they reached this conclusion.

Now, often these doctors are right. Dementia becomes common as people age, so if a family complains of memory problems and paranoia in an 89 year old, chances are quite high that the older person has dementia.

But sometimes its not. Sometimes its slowly resolving delirium along with a brain-clouding medication. Sometimes its depression.

It is a major thing to diagnose someone with dementia. So although its not possible for an average doctor to evaluate with as much detail as the memory clinic does, its important to document consideration of the five essential features as listed above.

Common Tests Used To Diagnose Dementia

Patients and doctors can choose from a range of tests to determine the root cause of potential dementia symptoms. Although receiving a positive result for a preliminary dementia screening test may not definitively diagnose a patient with the disease, it can strongly indicate whether dementia is the most likely cause of their symptoms. Some dementia screening tests can also dismiss other possible causes and point toward the correct diagnosis.

The most informative techniques of screening individuals for dementia include:

  • Family history review
  • Genetics tests
  • Brain imaging

While many tests for dementia can rule out other medical problems, a brain imaging test is one of the most reliable ways to verify a dementia diagnosis.

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Who Else May A Person With Dementia See

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.

Scales For Rating Dementia

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Rather than simply using early stage,middle-stage, and late-stage dementia as descriptors, there are scales that provide a more comprehensive description. These scales help better understand the different stages of Alzheimers disease based on how well a person thinks and functions . These scales are the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia, the Functional Assessment Staging Test, and the Clinical Dementia Rating.

Did You Know?

Global Deterioration Scale / Reisberg Scale

The most commonly used scale is often referred to simply as GDS, or by its more formal name, the Reisberg Scale . The GDS divides into seven stages based on the amount of cognitive decline. This test is most relevant for people who have Alzheimers disease because some other types of dementia do not always include memory loss.

Someone in stages 1-3 does not typically exhibit enough symptoms for a dementia diagnosis. By the time a diagnosis has been made, a dementia patient is typically in stage 4 or beyond. Stage 4 is considered early dementia, stages 5 and 6 are considered middle dementia, and stage 7 is considered late dementia.

Global Deterioration Scale / Reisberg Scale

Clinical Dementia Rating

Clinical Dementia Rating Scale
Average duration is 1 year to 2.5 years.

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Are The Online Self

The online self-assessments may help evaluate your current symptoms and cognitive abilities, they do not give you an official diagnosis, nor should you rely on these as an official diagnosis. Instead of taking an online assessment, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your doctor to express your current concerns and get an accurate diagnosis.

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.

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Stage : Mild Dementia

At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:

  • Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty recognizing faces and people

In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.

How Is Vascular Dementia Treated


Because many different disease processes can result in different forms of vascular dementia, there may not be one treatment for all. However, vascular dementia is often managed with medications to prevent strokes and reduce the risk of additional brain damage. Some studies suggest that medications that are used to treat Alzheimer’s might benefit some people with an early form of vascular dementia. Treating modifiable risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and problems with the rhythm of the heartbeat can help prevent additional stroke. Living a healthy lifestyle is important to help reduce the risk factorsof vascular dementia.

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S Doctors Take To Diagnose Dementia

Doctors typically go through 5 areas of evaluation to figure out whether or not someone has dementia. The doctor needs to check each area and document what they find.

1. Difficulty with mental functionsThis is usually evaluated with a combination of an office-based cognitive test and finding out about real-world problems by talking with their patient and people close to them.

2. Decline from previous level of abilityThis can be more difficult for a doctor to determine, so they need to talk with people who know the patient well to understand their previous abilities versus what they can do today.

For example, if a former accountant can no longer do basic math, thats a decline from their previous ability.

3. Impairment of daily life functionThis can also be tough for doctors to evaluate on their own.

So, the doctor will ask people close to their patient about what types of help the person is getting in their daily life and what problems family members have noticed.

4. Reversible causes of cognitive impairmentCertain conditions can cause temporary dementia-like symptoms.

Delirium can seem like Alzheimers or dementia and is usually caused by illness, infections, or a hospitalization and can last from weeks to months.

Other medical problems that interfere with thinking skills include medication side effects, thyroid problems, electrolyte imbalances, B12 deficiency, substance abuse, and other treatable health conditions.

How Accurate Is It

This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by licensed healthcare professionals.

Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.

If you think you or someone you care about may be experiencing symptoms of dementia or any other mental health condition, strongly recommends that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and support. For those in crisis, we have compiled a list of resources where you may be able to find additional help at:

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Coping With Cognitive Changes

Some medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease also may be used to treat the cognitive symptoms of LBD. These drugs, called cholinesterase inhibitors, act on a chemical in the brain that is important for memory and thinking. They may also improve hallucinations, apathy, and delusions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved one Alzheimer’s drug, rivastigmine, to treat cognitive symptoms in Parkinson’s disease dementia. Several other drugs are being tested as possible treatments for LBD symptoms or to disrupt the underlying disease process.

If Youre Worried About Possible Dementia

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Lets say youre like the man I spoke to recently, and youre worried that an older parent might have dementia. Youre planning to have a doctor assess your parent. Heres how you can help the process along:

  • Obtain copies of your parents medical information, so you can bring them to the dementia evaluation visit. The most useful information to bring is laboratory results and any imaging of the brain, such as CAT scans or MRIs. See this post for a longer list of medical information that is very helpful to bring to a new doctor.

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Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment

Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:

  • Getting lost easily
  • Noticeably poor performance at work
  • Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
  • Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
  • Losing or misplacing important objects
  • Difficulty concentrating

Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.

What Are Frontotemporal Disorders Causes Symptoms And Treatment

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Frontotemporal disorders , sometimes called frontotemporal dementia, are the result of damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Many possible symptoms can result, including unusual behaviors, emotional problems, trouble communicating, difficulty with work, or difficulty with walking. FTD is rare and tends to occur at a younger age than other forms of dementia. Roughly 60% of people with FTD are 45 to 64 years old.

FTD is progressive, meaning symptoms get worse over time. In the early stages, people may have just one symptom. As the disease progresses, other symptoms appear as more parts of the brain are affected. It is difficult to predict how long someone with FTD will live. Some people live more than 10 years after diagnosis, while others live less than two years after they are diagnosed.

There is currently no cure for FTD, and no treatments slow or stop the progression of the disease, but there are ways to help manage the symptoms.

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Why Would Anyone Want An Early Alzheimers Diagnosis

The SAGE test is useful because it helps you understand if your concerns are something to be worried about.

If the results seem to indicate that there could be a problem, you might think theres no point in talking with the doctor because theres no cure for dementia.

The most important is that a treatable condition could be the cause of cognitive impairment. Finding out sooner means getting treatment ASAP to eliminate the cognitive symptoms.

If the cognitive impairment is caused by Alzheimers or dementia, a major benefit is that starting treatment early is far more effective in managing symptoms and delaying progression of the disease.

Dementia Blood Test Panel

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A Dementia Blood Test Panel is commonly ordered tests used to differentiate between Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia. Includes CBC, Electrolytes, TSH, T4 total, Vitamin B12, CRP, and Sedimentation Rate.

Also Known As:

Methodology: See Individual Tests

Preparation: Fasting for 12 hours is required. Refrain from taking vitamin C supplements and fruits 24 hours before the collection and biotin for at least 72 hours prior to the collection. Must draw before Schilling test, transfusions or B12 therapy is started.

Test Results: 3-5 days. May take longer based on weather, holiday or lab delays.

Also Known As:

Methodology: See Individual Tests

Preparation: Fasting for 12 hours is required. Refrain from taking vitamin C supplements and fruits 24 hours before the collection and biotin for at least 72 hours prior to the collection. Must draw before Schilling test, transfusions or B12 therapy is started.

Test Results: 3-5 days. May take longer based on weather, holiday or lab delays.

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Tips For Talking With Your Doctor About Dementia

Your doctor can help answer the questions that you have about Dementia. You may want to know some helpful tips and things to expect.

Before your appointment

  • Ask a family member or close friend to go to your appointment with you. They will help you remember the questions you want to ask and what the doctor tells you during the appointment. They can also share with the doctor things they have observed. Most of all, they can serve as emotional support for you if you need them during your appointment and after.
  • Choose the best time of day for you. You will want to make an appointment at a time when you feel well-rested and alert.
  • Write down any symptoms that you are experiencing that are giving you trouble.
  • Write down any questions that you have for your doctor.

What to Bring with you to your appointment

You will want to be sure to bring the following information to your appointment.

  • List of symptoms. Include when you or your loved ones first noticed them. Note if they have worsened over time or improved.
  • Any medications or supplements that you are currently taking. This includes vitamins and over-the-counter medications.
  • Personal and family medical history.
  • List any questions that you may have.

During Your Appointment

While at the doctor, you will want to keep these questions in mind.


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