How do I find out if it is dementia and what can I do about it? - : Jump to: Search, Content

How do I find out if it is dementia and what can I do about it?

An evaluation for a diagnosis of dementia has many steps and must be thorough. The evaluation for a diagnosis of dementia generally includes the following components:

  • medical history
  • observations of the patient's behavior
  • identification of symptoms
  • review of the medications regularly taken by the patient
  • blood tests
  • neurological imaging tests such as PET and Computerized Tomography scans. Computerized images of the brain are used to determine evidence of cerebral hemorrhages, blood clots in the brain, head tumors or lesions, since all of these events can cause dementia.  Some computerized tomographies allow us to see a complete image of the brain; PET scans show how the brain is functioning.  Other tests, such as an electroencephalogram, measure the activity of brain waves.  Often, a person with Alzheimer's has brain waves that are slower than normal.  
  • detailed review of medical and family history


During the evaluation, if the person who presents symptoms has difficulty answering many of the questions, you or someone close to the patient can perhaps answer many of the questions.   


Diagnosis requires a lot of work since there is no specific test for diagnosing dementia.  Nevertheless, there are tests that have been designed to evaluate the severity of memory problems and dementia.  These tests by themselves cannot diagnose dementia, but they help to reach a diagnosis.  One of the tests most often used as part of the battery of tests given to a person to diagnose dementia is the Mini-Mental State Exam.  This test is used to evaluate memory and thinking skills that are most affected by dementia.  The skills assessed by this test are:

  • ability to identify objects by their names
  • attention
  • memory and loss of memory
  • orientation and spatial skills 


Asking for help was hard at first. I wanted my children to believe their father was fine!

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