Alzheimer's and Dementia Test, Types and Options

How do you determine what type of dementia your loved one has?

All types of dementia  have similar symptoms and it can be difficult to tell what type of dementia your loved one has. 
There is no single dementia or Alzheimer’s test, and a dementia diagnosis is usually made after a number of tests and procedures performed by a GP and a specialist.

Talk to a GP

If you are concerned that a loved one may have dementia, speak to their doctor first, as some other health conditions can have similar symptoms to dementia including:
  • Stress.
  • Depression.
  • Diabetes.
  • Infections.
  • Side effects of medication.
Your loved one’s doctor will review your loved ones medical history and carry out some initial tests, such as a physical examination, blood tests and urine tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing their symptoms. 

Their doctor may also carry out a basic thinking or cognitive test to check your loved one’s memory, concentration, problem-solving and language skills.  

Specialists can help

If your loved one’s doctor suspects that they might have dementia they will refer you to a specialist for diagnosis. These specialists can include:
  • Neurologist

    A specialist in brain and nerve disorders, who will carry out a brain scan to identify any damage using either a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. 

  • Geriatrician

    A specialist in illnesses and disabilities in older people, who will check to see whether the symptoms are caused by another physical illness, instead of dementia. 

  • Psychiatrist

    A specialist in emotional and behavioural disorders, who will check for depression and mental abilities. 
Brain scans

Tips for your appointment

It can be difficult to remember everything you want to say during a consultation, so it may be useful to write down your loved one’s symptoms and any questions you might have before going to see the doctor or specialist. It can be useful to bring along a list of any medications your loved one may be taking as well. 

While you’re in the appointment, take notes so you can refer to them afterwards. Also, don’t feel embarrassed to ask questions or to ask them to explain any words or phrases that you don’t understand. 

It’s also important to remember that you are entitled to ask for a referral to a specialist or for a second opinion. 
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