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How To Test For Early Dementia

Types Of Tests For Dementia

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The first type of tests are called mental status scales.

These are short bedside tests administered by the doctor that assess memory and other cognitive domains.

They provide a score, which is used to distinguish people with normal vs. impaired cognition and even screen for mild cognitive impairment .

Examples of the most widely used include the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and the Mini-Mental State Examination .

These are screening tests, meaning they are not diagnostic of any particular dementia or diagnosis, but when abnormal definitely can hint that cognition is impaired.

Moreover, these tests can be repeated over time to track the progression of the disease as well.

These tests assess memory, language, executive function, visuospatial skills, and attention/concentration.

MMSE test

The MMSE is scored on a 30 point scale. Specific items include orientation , memory , attention/concentration , language , and visuospatial function . A score of < 23 is abnormal and indicates cognitive impairment.

Note: you can find only MMSE test here.

MOCA test

The MOCA is also scored on a 30 point scale.

It assesses delayed word recall/memory , visuospatial function , language , attention/concentration , and orientation . A score of < 25 is abnormal and indicates significant cognitive impairment.

Note: you can also access MOCA test online.

SLUMS test

Another similar test is the Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination which is scored similarly.

Alternative shorter tests

Statistics Of Dementia In Men

Approximately 14 percent of Americans 71 years and older have some form of dementia, with the prevalence being slightly higher in women. Sixteen percent of women 71 years and older suffer from dementia, compared to only 11 percent of men. These results were found during the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study .

Researchers and scientist are still unclear why this gender difference exists, but theorize that the longer life expectancies of women may play a factor. Other possible reasons may be hormonal differences between men and women, genetic differences , and even historical differences in education, as in the past, educated women were a rarity and it is known that low education is a risk factor for the development of Alzheimers.

Online Number Span Memory Test

This well known memory test is used in many cognitive and neuroscience research labs. The Number Span test can be a useful screening tool to test for possible signs of dementia and cognitive impairment.

Click the New Test button, then repeat the numbers shown in the box below. Normal performance is being able to remember 6 to 8 numbers in a row. Change the Span to increase or decrease number of digits.

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Misplacing Things And Losing The Ability To Retrace Steps

Misplacing things could mean putting objects in strange places, like placing car keys in the microwave, and it is a common sign of dementia. Those struggling may also have difficulty in retracing their steps to find the things theyve lost. This lack of ability to retrace steps differentiates this as a sign of dementia versus a normal sign of aging. It can be both dangerous and frustrating. As the disease progresses, the afflicted person may accuse others of stealing things that have been misplaced.

During the early stages of dementia, decision-making is impacted and can cause poor judgment. People may spend money foolishly or have a hard time remembering to feed and walk a pet. They may also pay less attention to grooming and personal hygiene. Those struggling with dementia are especially susceptible to scams involving money. One poor decision should not be considered an indicator of dementia though. Instead, look for a pattern which might include things like constantly wearing summer dresses even though its winter, or walking in a busy area and not paying attention to traffic lights.

A Failed Sense Of Direction:

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Spacial orientation is a function the begins to deteriorate at the earliest onset of dementia. This can usually be seen in individuals who still drive. They may forget directions to places they are familiar with or not recognizing familiar building or landmarks. It will also become more difficult for them to follow step-by-step instructions.

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An Early Warning Sign Of Dementia:

A new study suggests nine years before memory changes, changes in sense of humor is an early dementia sign that could indicate dementia is on the way.

Many friends and family members of those with dementia in this study reported seeing changes in the sense of humor around 9 years before the more typical memory problems showed up.

In this early change, patients gradually started preferring slapstick humor over satirical or absurdist comedy In other words, they shifted from Mr. Bean type of comedy to Monty Python type of comedy 9 years prior to other dementia signs.

Dr. Camilla Clark, the chief researcher of the study says:

As the sense of humor defines us and is used to build relationships with those around us, changes in what we find funny has impacts far beyond picking a new favorite TV show.

Weve highlighted the need to shift the emphasis from dementia being solely about memory loss.

These findings have implications for diagnosis not only should personality and behavior changes ring alarm bells, but clinicians themselves need to be more aware of these symptoms as an early sign of dementia.

As well as providing clues to underlying brain changes, subtle differences in what we find funny could help differentiate between the different diseases that cause dementia.

Humour could be a particularly sensitive way of detecting dementia because it puts demands on so many different aspects of brain function, such as puzzle solving, emotion and social awareness.

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Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:

  • memory problems, particularly remembering recent events
  • increasing confusion
  • apathy and withdrawal or depression
  • loss of ability to do everyday tasks.

Sometimes, people fail to recognise that these symptoms indicate that something is wrong. They may mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, some people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong.

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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.

Alzheimer’s: ‘promising’ Blood Test For Early Stage Of Disease

New 5 Minute Test Can Detect Dementia 10 Years Early

A blood test could spot Alzheimer’s disease at the earliest stage and years before symptoms appear, studies in the US and Sweden suggest.

The test looks for tiny amounts of a protein which is elevated in people with the illness.

Investigators found measuring this protein, p-tau217, could predict Alzheimer’s dementia with 96% accuracy.

Experts say that with more research, it could be developed into a test doctors could offer to patients.

Currently, Alzheimer’s is diagnosed using a combination of memory tests and brain scans, once symptoms have already appeared.

The idea of a dementia blood test is not new, but these two latest studies give the clearest indication yet that a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease could be used to diagnose people at a much earlier stage.

Early diagnosis is important because it could offer more opportunities to treat the disease.

Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, explained that previous clinical trials of drugs had failed because the patients enrolled in them were too far advanced in their illness, and by that time it was “too late”.

She said: “There’s already too much build-up of damaging proteins in their brain.”

Alzheimer’s damages the memory and other cognitive abilities by destroying connections between nerve cells in the brain.

Proteins build up in the brain and cause these cells to die.

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Mental Ability Tests To Diagnose Dementia

People with symptoms of dementia are given tests to check their mental abilities, such as memory or thinking.

These tests are known as cognitive assessments, and may be done initially by a GP.

There are several different tests. A common one used by GPs is the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition .

Although these tests cannot diagnose dementia, they may show there are memory difficulties that need further investigation.

Most tests involve a series of pen-and-paper tests and questions, each of which carries a score.

These tests assess a number of different mental abilities, including:

  • short- and long-term memory
  • language and communication skills
  • awareness of time and place

It’s important to remember that test scores may be influenced by a person’s level of education.

For example, someone who cannot read or write very well may have a lower score, but they may not have dementia.

Similarly, someone with a higher level of education may achieve a higher score, but still have dementia.

How To Take The Sage Test

You do not need special equipment to take SAGE just a pen and paper. There are four forms of the SAGE test. You only need to take one. It doesn’t matter which one you take they are all interchangeable.

When you’re done, take your answer sheet to your doctor so he or she can score it and talk to you about the results. Depending on your score, your doctor may order follow-up tests or simply keep it on file so he can see if there are any changes down the road.

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How A Simple Blood Test Could Predict Future Cognitive Decline

Could our blood be the key to identifying the biological markers that predict dementia before its onset? PhD student Kanika Mehta explores the possibilities.

Dementia its a frighteningly common disorder with no known cure, and is the second leading cause of death in Australia .

According to one study, over a lifetime, 1 in every 3 women and 1 in every 5 men risk developing dementia . This neurological disorder often leads to rapid cognitive decline and memory loss, and at present affects some 50 million people worldwide many of whom will not even be able to tell the year they are living in.

If you were asked what year and month we are in right now, you would probably answer within a matter of seconds, but your biological markers that is, the changes that occur in your body before cognitive symptoms appear may tell a different story.

What Is Mixed Dementia

A quick 21

It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .

Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.

Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.

In addition, medical conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and delirium can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia, as can side effects of certain medicines.

Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:

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If Youre Worried About Possible Dementia

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.

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.

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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.

Can Dementia Be Diagnosed During A Single Visit

Easy Test to Find Out if You May Have Early Signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s

So can dementia be diagnosed during a single visit? As you can see from above, it depends on how much information is easily available at that visit. It also depends on the symptoms and circumstances of the older adult being evaluated.

Memory clinics are more likely to provide a diagnosis during the visit, or shortly afterwards. Thats because they usually request a lot of relevant medical information ahead of time, send the patient for tests if needed, and interview the patient and informers extensively during the visit.

But in the primary care setting, and in my own geriatric consultations, I find that clinicians need more than one visit to diagnose dementia or probable dementia. Thats because we usually need to order tests, request past medical records for review, and gather more information from the people who know the senior being evaluated. Its a bit like a detectives investigation!

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Impact Of A Diagnosis

A major report on the benefits of early diagnosis shows that a diagnosis is often greeted with severe shock, with feelings of disbelief, anger, loss and grief . However, a diagnosis is often regarded by those with dementia and family members as a positive event, particularly when the initial shock has worn off. Critically, the response to a diagnosis depends on how a person with dementia is told about it and the level of support that is available to them and their families after diagnosis.

It is therefore important for the person with dementia and their family to receive the dementia diagnosis in a positive way, with time made available to answer any questions and for support and reassurance to be provided. This is more likely to lead to the individual feeling more in control and empowered to make decisions.

Know The Signs Of Dementia

Early diagnosis can help people with dementia plan for the future, and might mean they can access interventions that help slow down the disease. Being familiar with the signs of dementia can help people receive a diagnosis as early as possible.

Early signs that a person might have dementia can include:

  • being vague in everyday conversations
  • memory loss that affects day-to-day function
  • short term memory loss

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How Do You Make A Dementia Patient Happy

Here are some tips:

  • Have a daily routine, so the person knows when certain things will happen.
  • Reassure the person that he or she is safe and you are there to help.
  • Focus on his or her feelings rather than words. …
  • Don’t argue or try to reason with the person.
  • Try not to show your frustration or anger.
  • Why Its Important To Know The Type Of Dementia

    The early stages of dementia are subtle and vague and are ...

    While no two people have the same experience of dementia, identifying the type of dementia in individuals helps families, carers and care workers to provide the right care and support. If we were given a diagnosis of cancer, we would expect to know what type we have so that the best possible treatment and management programmes can be put in place. It is no different for people with dementia.

    As a simple illustration of the differences, someone with Alzheimers disease or vascular dementia would expect to experience memory and communication problems while a person with fronto-temporal lobe dementia would be more likely to show changes in personality rather than memory. Consequently, this could well involve a different approach to care and support provided.

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