Dementia - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is dementia diagnosed?

Determining the type or cause of dementia can be challenging as there are many neurological diseases that can contribute to dementia.

Initially, your doctor will:

  • Ask about your medical history and family history of disease
  • Ask about your symptoms and patterns in the loss of cognitive function

Your doctor will then assess your mental function and thinking abilities through a number of tests:

  • Neurocognitive tests. These assess abilities related to memory, thinking and learning, problem-solving, reasoning, judgement and language. Your doctor will also assess your visual perception, senses, reflexes, attention, movement and balance.
  • Psychiatric assessment. Your doctor will check if you have any symptoms of depression, mood changes, or other mental health conditions.
  • Brain scans. A computed tomography (CT) or MRI can detect signs of stroke, bleeding, tumour or hydrocephalus (fluid accumulation). A positron emission tomography (PET) may also be done to check for the deposition of amyloid or tau protein in the brain.
  • Blood tests. Conditions such as underactive thyroid gland and vitamin B12 deficiency can also affect brain function. These can be detected through blood tests. Your doctor may also recommend testing the cerebrospinal fluid by doing a lumbar puncture to check for inflammation, infection or any indicators of degenerative diseases.

How is dementia treated?

While there is no medical cure for dementia, there are ways to help reduce symptoms and manage the underlying causes of dementia. These include:

  • Behavioural therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Counselling
  • Eliminating alcohol and drug consumption
  • Medications or other treatment methods to manage specific diseases causing dementia
This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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