What If The Gp Wont Make A Referral To A Memory Service Or Clinic For A Specialist Assessment
If you are experiencing difficulty getting a diagnosis, or if you have questions you cant get answered, well take the time to really understand the problem, and give you the expert support you need to tackle it. Please call our specialist dementia Admiral Nurses on our Helpline on 0800 888 6678 or email .
Dementia Tests You Can Do At Home
There is no one correct way that you can test for conditions like Alzheimers or other forms of dementia without taking a medical test that a doctor can give. But you can do an easy;memory test at home. The test may help give you an indication that something may be wrong with your, or somebody elses memory. It helps differentiate between normal everyday forgetfulness that we sometimes get and something more serious.
We take a look at two ways that you can a do at home dementia test
;Word Association Tests
Simple word tests can be;used;to help detect memory problems a person may have.
Our brain saves and stores all the words we learn during our lives in our memories which then allows us to recollect what a word means without thinking about it.
A person who is having difficulty remembering words or confusing their words could have a problem that is associated with their memory. Word association tests such as the one below seem to work well in detecting memory problems.
- Ask the individual taking the test to name all the animals they can think of in one minute.
- Ask the individual to name all the types of fruit they can remember in one minute.
Test Results Research has found that a healthy individuals scoring should between 20 to 25 words in the time given whereas a person who may have memory problems usually scores between 10 15
;The Clock Drawing Test. Do at Home Dementia Test.
Dementia Clock Test Results
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia ;Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Detecting Alzheimers Gets Easier With A Simple Blood Test
New assays could reduce the need for costlier, more invasive brain scans and spinal fluid measures
When a patient complains of forgetfulness, a neurologist might not know immediately whether it results from normal aging, reduced blood flow to the brainor, more ominously, Alzheimers disease. For much of the past century, a definitive Alzheimers diagnosis could only be made during an autopsy. Brain imaging and spinal fluid tests now make it possible to spot the disease in patients even before the initial symptoms appear. But these invasive tests are expensive and generally limited to research settings that are not part of routine care for the millions of people suffering from the most common neurodegenerative disorder.
An era in which an Alzheimers diagnosis can begin in a doctors office is now arriving. Advances in technologies to detect early signs of disease from a blood sample are helping doctors to identify the memory-robbing disorder more accurately and to screen participants more quickly for trials of potential treatments for the more than five million people in the U.S. afflicted with Alzheimers.
The development of a blood-based test for Alzheimers disease is just phenomenal, says Michelle Mielke, a neuroscientist and epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic. The field has been thinking about this for a very long time. Its really been in the last couple of years that the possibility has come to fruition.
At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia
There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.
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Information For Your Doctor
Itâs a good idea to put together the following for your first appointment:
- A list of symptoms — include everything youâre feeling, even if you donât think it could be related to dementia
- Any sources of major stress or recent life changes
- A list of all medications you take, including vitamins and supplements, and the dosage
- A list of any questions you have
What Is Mixed Dementia
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.
Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:
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How To Diagnose Alzheimers Vs Dementia
Alzheimers is a progressive and fatal brain disorder. Dementia is not a specific disease, but an umbrella term that defines a syndrome and used to refer to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Alzheimers is one of the most common causes of dementia. Both Alzheimers and dementia are diagnosed using a variety of different assessments and tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, cognitive and neuropsychological tests, and an analysis of changes in behavior.
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.
Laboratory And Imaging Evaluation
It is recommended that any assessment for suspected dementia include an initial laboratory evaluation to rule out confounders of memory or reversible causes of memory loss. The American Academy of Neurology recommends testing of vitamin B12 levels and thyroid function for routine initial evaluation. 28; In addition to these tests, the AGS recommends adding a complete blood count and a complete metabolic panel, as well as checking folate levels .27 If the patient has a history of risk factors for sexually transmitted infections, testing for syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus infection should be added.27 Other testing such as urinalysis, urine culture, and heavy metal screening should be performed when clinical suspicion is high. Lumbar puncture with cerebrospinal fluid analysis may be indicated if there is suspicion of neurosyphilis, HIV infection, cerebral Lyme disease, or vasculitis.27
Studies Recommended by the American Geriatrics Society for Patients with Suspected Dementia
|Laboratory tests||Tests to consider in patients with specific risk factors|
Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain if any of the following are present:
Consider positron emission tomography if definitive diagnosis will change management decisions
Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
Thyroid-stimulating hormone level*
Vitamin B12 level*
Assessment By A Specialist
Assessment for dementia by a specialist can be a confusing and daunting prospect. Many memory services offer pre-diagnostic counselling. This is a chance for you to talk things over with a health professional before your assessment. You can choose to have somebody you trust such as a partner, friend or family member with you for this.
The discussion can be an opportunity to share what you already know about dementia, express your wishes and raise any concerns you have about the assessment process. However, if you do not receive counselling before your assessment, you can still ask questions at any time during the assessment process. Having counselling, or asking questions at another point, can help you to:
- understand the reasons why you have been referred
- learn more about the assessment process
- give consent to go ahead with the assessment
- prepare for the possibility of receiving a diagnosis.
You may be asked if you want to know your diagnosis at the end of the assessment process. If you don’t want to find out your diagnosis, the specialist can discuss this with someone you trust instead of with you directly.
The specialist’s assessment may take place at your home or at a hospital. They will gather information about you and your symptoms by:
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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.
How The Sage Test For Dementia Works
SAGE stands for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination and was developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The SAGE test has 12 questions that cover all aspects of cognition, including memory, problem solving, and language.
There are 4 different versions of the test. Theyre similar enough, but having multiple versions means that someone could take the test once a year and wouldnt improve their score each year just from the practice of taking it before.
This way, the test is slightly different each time.
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What Is The Clock Test For Dementia
The clock test is a non-verbal screening tool that may be used as part of the assessment for dementia, Alzheimers, and other neurological problems. The clock test screens for cognitive impairment. The individual being screened is asked to draw a clock with the hour and minute hands pointing to a specific time. Research has shown that six potential errors in the clock testthe wrong time, no hands, missing numbers, number substitutions, repetition, and refusalcould be indicative of dementia.
Preparing For A Doctor’s Visit
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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
Epidemiology And Risk Factors
After 65 years of age, the lifetime risk of developing dementia is approximately 17 to 20 percent; 70 percent of patients with dementia have Alzheimer disease, 17 percent have vascular dementia, and 13 percent have a combination of dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson-related dementia, alcoholic dementia, or frontal lobe dementia.4,5 The transitional state between normal cognition and early Alzheimer disease is called mild cognitive impairment, which is defined as memory impairment without meeting criteria for dementia. Each year, 10 to 15 percent of patients with mild cognitive impairment develop Alzheimer disease.6 Alzheimer disease affects 5.3 million Americans, and is the sixth leading cause of death.4 Median survival time after diagnosis of dementia is 4.5 years.7
Risk factors for dementia include age, family history of dementia, apolipoprotein E4 genotype, cardiovascular comorbidities, chronic anticholinergic use, and lower educational level.810 The greatest risk factor for dementia is increasing age. In persons 71 to 79 years of age, the prevalence is approximately 5 percent, increasing to 37 percent in persons older than 90 years.5 Having a college education has been shown to delay cognitive dysfunction by two years, compared with having less education.10 The presence of the apolipoprotein E4 genotype can increase the risk of dementia two- to 10-fold, and chronic anticholinergic use is associated with a somewhat increased risk .5,9
What Is Dementia Symptoms Types And Diagnosis
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.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia
Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.
The symptoms of dementia can vary and may include:
- Experiencing memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion
- Difficulty speaking, understanding and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
- Wandering and getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
- Trouble handling money responsibly and paying bills
- Repeating questions
- Not caring about other peoples feelings
- Losing balance and problems with movement
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognizing their symptoms can be particularly difficult. Its important to consider a persons current abilities and to monitor for changes over time that could signal dementia.
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Simple Blood Test Can Detect Dementia
An Alzheimers diagnosis has historically been difficult to confirm. Until recently, only an autopsy could detect Alzheimers with certainty. Now, doctors rely on expensive PET brain scans and testing levels of amyloid, the toxic protein associated with Alzheimers, in cerebrospinal fluid, an invasive and expensive procedure.
But that could change. Recent research by scientists in Japan and Australia shows that a simple blood test could be the only thing we need to detect who may go on to develop Alzheimers disease. Researchers were able to develop a blood test that can measure beta-amyloid in a persons brain.
Besides the low cost of a potential blood test to detect Alzheimers, the convenience and ease of the test could allow doctors to pinpoint who is more likely to develop Alzheimers disease, potentially allowing them access into clinical trials, and eventually a treatment, sooner. The test is currently 90 percent accurate.
This new test has the potential to eventually disrupt the expensive and invasive scanning and spinal fluid technologies. In the first instance, however, it will be an invaluable tool in increasing the speed of screening potential patients for new drug trials, said Colin Masters, a professor at the University of Melbourne who co-led the research.
This study was published in the journal Nature on January 31, 2018.