The timely and accurate diagnosis of different types of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other long term conditions which adversely affect brain function, is extremely important.
For you or your family members, the correct diagnosis will mean you can make appropriate plans for long term elderly care and make all the necessary arrangements regarding medical treatment and care support.
When you have worries about your mental health or that of a loved one, as with all health concerns your first port of call is, of course, your local GP.
It is also worth finding out if your local surgery has a GP with more experience in elderly care and mental health though you may prefer to consult with your family doctor if he or she has known you and has treated you and your family for many years.
“If you suspect that you or a family member is showing early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s and you are not sure how and where to get the best medical advice, the team at Eldermera can advise on the steps you need to take to get an accurate diagnosis.”
Your GP or nurse practitioner will ask you about your medical history and current symptoms, and they may also check this out with your family. If your GP’s initial thoughts are that dementia is a likely diagnosis, the most likely course of action is a referral to a memory specialist or a clinic which typically employs a range of mental health professionals, including clinical psychologists, neurologists, and memory nurses with expertise in elderly care.
There are several relatively common diagnostic tests and procedures for dementia, including brain scans, blood analyses and assessments of mental capabilities. For example, you may initially be asked to complete a questionnaire or mini mental state examination (MMSE), which is designed to test memory issues and their severity. It takes into account key considerations like memory and attention spans, communication and language, and the ability to concentrate, understand instructions and plan. You may be asked to memorise a list of objects and repeat it back in sequence. This is simply to test for and gauge any mental impairment.
If after initial assessments the patient is thought to be showing signs of dementia, further tests are usually taken.
Blood tests can then be taken to look more closely at overall physical health and see if there is any other underlying cause for the symptoms which they are displaying. Vitamin B12 levels and thyroid hormones could be affecting mental health for example.
There is also the possibility that you or your loved one will be sent for a brain scan which will look for evidence of a brain tumour, stroke or other issues which may be causing the symptoms of dementia. CT scans can look for signs of stroke or tumour but an MRI scan can provide better information about brain structure and evidence of Dementia, for example by identifying brain shrinkage (pertinent to frontotemporal dementia) or damage to blood vessels (typical in vascular dementia). There are other follow up scans which look in more detail at brain activity, abnormalities and blood flow.
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s? Eldermera is here to secure you the best care options, and coordinate your care needs.
Why not schedule a free consultation today?