What is the diagnosis process for dementia?

Sereen W Asks...

What is the diagnosis process for dementia?

Dear Sereen W:

According to Alzheimer’s Canada, the diagnosis process begins with your family doctor. However, the process will usually begin for the individual and family before a medical professional is involved. Often times, family members might begin noticing subtle changes in behavior, such as abnormal language use, increased apathy, confusion, difficulty following along in normal conversations and unusual challenges with directions. If these patterns of behavior persist you should talk to your loved one about consulting a family doctor.

Your family doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, past illnesses, and family medical and psychiatric history. Here are some other things to expect:

  • Other physical examinations and tests should be done to rule out potential heart or kidney problems that may be causing Alzheimer-like symptoms.

  • To evaluate whether another nervous system disorder may be causing the symptoms, your doctor may also test muscle tone and strength, coordination, eye movement, speech and sensation.

  • Your doctor may also conduct mental tests to measure your sense of time and place as well as your ability to remember, express yourself, and perform simple calculations.

After the initial assessment, your doctor might be able to make a diagnosis, but it is more likely that they will refer you to a memory clinic or neurologist for more testing.

In the next phase of diagnostics, tests such as X-rays and EEGs may be used to determine the source of the problem. CT scans are sometimes recommended in order to take images of the brain as well.

After a diagnosis is made, you will likely continue to see your family doctor for ongoing assessment.

For more information, visit http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Diagnosis/Assessments-and-tests