Diagnosis

There is no simple test to make a diagnosis and dementia can only be confirmed with certainty by examining the brain at post mortem. However, a reasonably accurate diagnosis of dementia can be made by taking a careful history of the person’s problem from a close relative or friend, together with an examination of the person’s physical and mental status. It is important to exclude other treatable conditions that cause memory loss such as depression, urinary infection, vitamin deficiency and brain tumour. An early diagnosis is very helpful, because it:

  • Maximizes the quality of your loved one’s life
  • Resolves Anxiety
  • Gives people with dementia a better chance to benefit from existing treatments
  • Gives you more time to plan for the future

Another important reason to get a diagnosis is to identify the actual cause of the dementia so that your loved one receives the proper care. Dementia related to depression, drug interaction, thyroid problems, and certain vitamin deficiencies, for example, may be reversible if detected early. Other causes of dementia include strokes, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease and are not reversible.

Common Tests

There is no one diagnostic test that can detect if a person has Alzheimer’s disease. Standard clinical methods combine physical and neuropsychological testing with caregiver input and the physician’s judgment, and the diagnostic process may take more than one day. New diagnostic tools and criteria make it possible for physicians to make a positive clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s with around 90 percent accuracy.

The diagnostic process will involve your physician and possibly other specialty physicians, such as a psychiatrist or neurologist.

 

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